How a Barre Exercise Program Can Safely and Effectively Relieve Lower Back Pain
I’ve been lucky. I’ve never really had the misfortune of having to live with back pain — that is, until I broke my back last summer.
Now it seems that I’m a member of an enormous club I never knew existed! CenterBarre clients come in all shapes and ages and like me, many are living with back issues. Just last week a first time client came in complaining about low back pain. This woman was an athlete. She knew her body well and exercised daily. The problem was that although she was beautiful and fit, she had very little strength in her lower back, glutes and lower abs. Remember, those core muscles don’t get much use in daily activities. They require exercises that focus specifically on them.
The reasons for back pain vary — disc problems, muscle stiffness, posture, or just carrying the stress of the day and the weight of the world.
Here’s the good news…. It can get better! Remember, you may feel like resting, but bodies like to move and moving is good for your back. Conditioning muscles to support the spine is essential in back health. Careful movements and back strengthening exercises can lead to back and neck relief, and who doesn’t want that? The only catch is consistency. Back strengthening exercises should be done at least three times per week. Start slow and easy, then increase intensity as you get stronger. Remember, pain is your gauge, so listen to your body and modify as needed.
Here are some of my favorites. These are a few of the exercises I did and still do daily to strengthen the muscles that support my spine.
Knees to chest crunch (for low abs)
- Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift one knee up to your chest, then back down to the floor, then switch, alternating one then the other.
- Each time you lift your knee, focus on exhaling and connecting to your lower abs.
- For a more challenging option, place your hands behind your head with your elbows out wide and curl your head and shoulders off the floor. Add a little crunch with your upper torso each time you bring your knees up.
Bridge (for glutes)
- Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet hip width and parallel on the floor.
- Lift your seat up off the floor and then back down, keeping your back straight.
If you need support, place your hands under your seat to help you lift. You can slide your feet farther away, taking some of the bend out of your knees and flex your feet to work your hamstrings.
Upside down L stretch (for back, hamstrings, and abs)
- Take hold of a counter or the back of a sofa, bend forward, straighten your arms and pull your seat back keeping your legs and back straight.
- As you breathe, think about pulling your abs up tighter toward your spine, working against gravity. You can lift your toes to stretch deeper into your hamstrings.
Janet is the founder of CenterBarre, lead instructor, and the designer of the CenterBarre workout