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These Abs Exercises Are the Secret to Preventing Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain has a myriad of potential causes. Body imbalances, carrying heavy bags, and exercising with bad form can all lead to a persistent ache. No matter the reason, back pain straight-up sucks. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent back pain in the future by building a strong core. (Already sidelined by pain? Practice these yoga poses in the meantime).

Along with learning the proper form before you try an exercise (like this lifting technique), practicing back- and core-strengthening exercises can prevent you from straining your muscles when you work out. Nike master trainer Rebecca Kennedy designed this workout with moves that will strengthen your entire core with a focus on the lower back.

How it works: Perform each move for the indicated number of reps. Consult the video for a breakdown of each move.

You'll need: A mat

Standing Upper-Body Rotation

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands on hips.
B. Lean to left, pushing hips to right, then slowly rotate hips in full a circle while leaning torso in the opposite direction.

Repeat for 30 seconds in each direction.

Dead Bug

A. Lie faceup on the floor with arms and legs reaching toward the ceiling.
B. Lower right arm back to reach overhead, biceps by ear, while lowering left leg to hover off the floor. Return to starting position.
C. Lower right arm to right side, in line with shoulder, while lowering left leg to side, in line with hip. Return to starting position.
D. Repeat on the opposite side, lowering left arm and right leg vertically then horizontally.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Isometric Table Top

A. Lie on back with knees bent at a 90-degree angle, hands resting on knees.
B. Simultaneously drive knees in toward chest and use hands to push knees away.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Isometric Table Top Progression

A. Lie faceup on the floor with the left knee bent at a 90-degree angle, right leg extended and hovering a few inches off the floor. Left arm is extended overhead, biceps by ear, and right hand is pressing against the left knee.

Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Alternating Marches

A. Lie faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift hips to form a straight line from knees to shoulders.
B. Lift left leg off the floor, drawing knee toward chest. Return to starting position.
C. Left right leg off the floor, drawing knee toward chest. Return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Pelvic Tilt Crunch

A. Lie faceup on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle directly over hips, and hands resting behind head.
B. Contract abs to roll hips up, belly button to spine, bringing knees a few inches closer to chest.
C. Slowly return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Modified Side Plank Pulse

A. Start in a side plank on the left forearm with right leg extended, and left leg bent, knee resting on the floor. Right hand is behind head.
B. Pulse hips up a few inches, then down to return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Rotating Clam Shell

A. Lie on the left side with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and left handing propping head up off the floor.
B. Raise right knee toward the ceiling with right foot touching left foot.
C. Lower right knee toward the left knee while raising right foot toward the ceiling.

Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Bird Dog

A. Start in tabletop position with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.Extend left arm forward, biceps by ear, while reaching right leg back at hip height to start.
B. Draw left elbow to right knee underneath belly button. Return to starting position.
C. Sweep left arm out to left side, in line with shoulder, while sweeping right leg out to right side, in line with hip, keeping both parallel to the floor.
D. Return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Side-Lying Shoulder Sweep

A. Lie faceup with arms extended out to sides. Knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and resting on the floor to the right side of the body.
B. Raise left arm off the floor and lower on top of right arm, rotating shoulders to the right.
C. Sweep left hand above head then out to left side, bending elbow to reach behind lower back, maintaining contact between fingertips and the floor throughout movement.
D. Reverse movement to circle left arm back to right arm, then open left arm out to side to return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Shoulder Wall Slide

A. Sit against a wall with knees bent and feet on the floor with arms extended overhead, back and head pressed against the wall.
B. Keeping arms in contact with the wall, lower elbows to belly button height, then straighten arms to return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Half-Kneeling Deadlift with Rotation

A. Kneel on left leg with hands behind head.
B. Keeping back straight, lower chest toward right leg.
C. Return to starting position, then rotate torso to face the right side.
D. Return to starting position.

Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

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