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The 3 Mantras for Better Spine Health

A strong spine keeps you moving, allowing you to enjoy life on your own. When a significant spinal illness occurs, it seems as if life as you know it has abruptly ended.

The ability to keep your balance and avoid any unnatural motions or injuries is directly tied to the strength of your core muscles. In addition, they let your body to route tension and force via your muscles rather than your spine, thus lowering the probability of experiencing back ache.

Weakened muscles and ligaments around the spine may make bending, twisting, and lifting more of a challenge as we become older or after an accident. Because of this immobility, the muscles in your lower back are often put under unnecessary strain and tension. When someone is experiencing back pain, they may be afraid to move for fear of making the agony worse.

So, how can you strengthen your backbone?

Dr. Stuart McGill, a spine biomechanist at the Canada's University of Waterloo, came up with the "big three" exercises.

  • The curl-up

  • side plank

  • Bird-dog

Here is how it has to be done. To get the desired result, you need to use a pyramid sequence: Begin by doing five sets of each of the three exercises. Then, do three repetitions of each exercise, and end with a single set of each.

Increase the initial number of repetitions you do for each exercise as you gain familiarity with the regimen but keep the descending rhythm.

Do these two or three times a week before each of your usual workouts. After some time, you may do them every day.

The Curl-up

Pic curtesy:

1. Lie on your back. Extend one leg straight out on the floor. Bend the knee of your other leg so your foot is flat on the floor.

2. Put your hands under your lower back to maintain the natural arch of your spine.

3. On an exhalation, lift your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor as though they were all connected. (Come off the floor just enough to feel tension in your muscles.) Don't bend your lower back, tuck your chin, or let your head tilt back.

4. Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly lower yourself down.

5. Complete five reps, then switch leg positions and repeat the sequence to complete the exercise.

The Side plank

Pic curtesy:
Pic curtesy:

1. Lie on your side with your upper body propped up on your arm, with your forearm on the floor and your elbow underneath your shoulder. Place your free hand of the top of your hip. Pull your feet back, so your knees are at a 90° angle.

2. Lift your hips off the floor so they are in line with the rest of your body, and hold for up to 10 seconds. Try to maintain a straight line from your head to your knees. Slowly lower your hips back down to the floor.

3. Repeat five times, then flip to your other side and repeat the sequence to complete the exercise.

Variation: For a challenge, straighten your legs instead of bending them.

The Bird-Dog

Pic curtesy:

1. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees.

2. Raise your left arm and extend it forward as far as possible while simultaneously lifting your right leg and extending it straight behind your body. Keep both the raised arm and leg parallel to the floor. Ensure your hips are aligned with your torso and not tilted to one side.

3. Hold for 10 seconds and then return to the starting position.

4. Repeat five times, then switch to the other arm and leg and repeat the sequence to complete the exercise.


Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

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