Core exercises to strengthen the spineOpen print version


*Consult your physician before starting this or any exercise program.



Transverse abdominal contraction (beginner)

Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet flat. Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Hold 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 10 times. Perform 2 times per day.

March (beginner)

Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet flat. Tighten your lower abdominals and pelvic floor by pulling your belly button up and in toward your spine. Hold that position and lift the left foot off the floor to a 90 degree angle. Return to original position, then repeat with right leg/foot without losing the core contraction. Return to start position and relax your abdominals. Repeat 10 times on each side. Perform 2 times per day.

Heel taps (mid-level)

Lie on your back and bring your legs up together in a 90 degree position to your body. Knees are bent to 90 degrees. Keeping this position with your abdominals tight toward your spine, heel tap one side down to the floor, bring it back up, then tap the other side. Remember to keep your abdominals tight throughout the process. Repeat 10 times on each side. Perform 2 times per day.

Dead bug (mid-level)

Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms extended to the ceiling. Tighten your abdominals by pulling your belly button up and in toward your spine. Hold that position throughout this exercise. Extend the right leg outward, making it straighter, while extending the left arm overhead. Hold 5 seconds, then return to the original positon. Repeat to the opposite limbs. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Lower abdominal (advanced)

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat. Squeeze a pillow or ball between your knees. Tighten your abdominals by pulling your belly button up and in toward your spine, then lift your knees toward your chest. Do not take your knees past a 90 degree position in relation to your body. Lower and repeat 10 times. Never let your lower back come off the floor/ table. Increase repetitions if this does not create pain.

Deep spine stabilizers (beginner)

Lie on your side with your hip and knees in a 90 degree position. Make sure shoulders are in a straight line with the hips. Without moving your hips, lift your ankles off the table about 2 inches. Return slowly to start position. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Side plank

Lie on your side with your elbow underneath you. Prop up on your elbow and your knees while keeping your body in a straight line. Tighten abdominal and pelvic floor muscles by pulling up and in along with squeezing your gluteals together. Hold 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Modified plank

Lie on your stomach and prop up on your elbows. While keeping your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles pulled up and in, raise up on your knees and elbows. Maintain this position for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times. Increase your hold time as the exercise becomes easier.

Plank

Lie on your stomach with your elbows propped up underneath you. Your toes should be pointed into the floor. Raise up onto your elbows and toes by pulling your abdominals up and in and squeezing your gluteal muscles. Keep your back straight.

Sources & links

If you have questions, please contact Mayfield Brain & Spine at 800-325-7787 or 513-221-1100.


updated: 9.2018
reviewed by: Lisa Cleveland, PT, Mayfield Clinic, Cincinnati, Ohio


mayfield codeMayfield Certified Health Info materials are written and developed by the Mayfield Clinic. This information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your health care provider.