Carve out just a few minutes a day for these simple moves and your body and back will thank you for it.

By Rebecca Dancer
Photo: ChesiireCat/Getty Images

If you've ever suffered from back pain (after spin class, maybe?), you know how debilitating it can be. No one wants to be sidelined from a workout or wonder if there's something seriously wrong. And if you have an office job, sitting at a desk for eight hours a day certainly doesn't help. For most people, the key to preventing-and relieving-back pain is to simply keep moving, says Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery. An investigative journalist and chronic back pain sufferer herself, Ramin shares what she learned after six years of researching solutions for this common complaint.

"The 'rest and be careful' advice is wrong," says Ramin directly. "The best approach is to remind [your muscles] through exercise what their appropriate roles are, and get them back to work." To nip back pain in the bud, she recommends doing the "Big Three" exercises developed by Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. Performed daily, the three moves help stabilize the spine and build muscle endurance so you can perform normal tasks and exercises efficiently and safely without threat to your back.

How it works: Perform each of the three moves, holding for no more than 10 seconds. Do as many reps as feels challenging for you without ever being painful. Build endurance by increasing reps, not the duration of the hold. The goal is to create muscle patterns that keep the spine stabilized, so start low and slow, suggest McGill.

Modified Curl-Up

A. Lie on your back with left leg straight and right leg bent so that right foot is flat on the ground and in line with left knee.

B. Place hands under your lower back to maintain a natural curve in your spine.

C. Curl head, neck, and shoulders off the ground, keeping neck and chin as still as possible.

D. Hold the curl for 8 to 10 seconds, then reverse curl to lower back to the ground.

Swap legs halfway through.

Side Bridge

A. Lie on right side and prop yourself up with right elbow underneath right shoulder, bending both knees at a 90-degree angle.

B. Lift hips off the ground, distributing your weight to your elbow and knees.

C. Hold the position for 8 to 10 seconds, keeping hips in line with head and knees.

Swap legs halfway through.

Quadruped Bird-Dog

A. Begin with hands and knees on the floor, shoulders over wrists and hips over knees with back straight.

B. Simultaneously raise left arm forward and extend right leg straight back behind you.

C. Hold the position for 8 to 10 seconds, making sure to keep arm and leg in line with your torso.

D. Lower arm and leg.

Swap legs halfway through.

Comments (4)

January 17, 2019
Do you do a lot of repetitive work all day, either sitting OR standing? Then odds are, your back and spine are not getting the oxygen, blood, vitamins and minerals and nutrients it needs.They’re SLOWLY over time being starved.Trust me when I say pain is not the cause. It’s just a really obvious symptom. Pain is your back is screaming for help.The second thing that happens is as you get older you develop muscle imbalances. For instance, the hip flexors are too weak, while your thighs deal with bearing the load.Not good at all and...Next thing you know? Your back goes out of whack at the drop of a hat and lays you up for days. Your muscles wound tighter than a spring. Fortunately, there is a method that can unlock the back, restore balance and bring much needed relief: ==>
September 20, 2018
Pictures are needed
August 24, 2018
This 16-Minute, 8-Movement Method Relieves Years of Upper and Lower Back Pain:
September 6, 2017
It would be better if there are pictures to demonstrate these exercises