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The 5 Best Back Exercises to Strengthen Core

Best Back Exercises to strengthen Core

We talked with Physical Therapist, Dr. Eoin Everard of and asked him what the best exercises are for back and core.  Here are his top choices!

BirdDog/ Superman

The bird-dog/superman exercise is a popular core stability exercise that offers several benefits for the body. This exercise, also known as the superman, involves extending one arm forward while simultaneously extending the opposite leg backward, keeping a stable and aligned torso. Here are some of the key benefits of incorporating the bird-dog exercise into your fitness routine:

Core Stability: The main focus of the superman exercise is to engage and stabilise the core muscles, including the deep abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back muscles. By  keeping a stable and aligned torso while extending the limbs, you develop core stability, which is essential for maintaining proper posture, preventing lower back pain, and enhancing overall movement efficiency.

Balance and Coordination: Performing the superman exercise requires core balance and co-ordination as you extend the opposite arm and leg without losing stability. This exercise helps improve proprioception (awareness of body position) and enhances overall balance and coordination, which can translate to better performance in sports and daily activities.

Spinal Health: The Superman exercise promotes a neutral spine position, which is crucial for spinal health. By engaging the core muscles and maintaining proper alignment, you can reduce the risk of excessive stress or strain on the spinal column. This exercise can contribute to better spinal stability, improved posture, and a decreased likelihood of developing back-related issues. Doing this with the BackAware Belt gives you feedback that you are keeping this neutral spine position throughout the exercise.

Hip and Shoulder Stability: In addition to core stability, the bird-dog exercise also enhances stability in the hip and shoulder joints. As you extend the leg and arm, you activate and strengthen the muscles around these joints, including the glutes, hip abductors, and rotator cuff muscles. Improved stability in these areas can help prevent injuries and enhance functional movement patterns.

It's important to perform the bird-dog exercise with proper form and control to maximize its benefits. Begin with a stable and neutral spine position, engage the core muscles, and avoid arching the back or rounding the shoulders. Gradually increase the duration and intensity as your strength and stability improve.

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Side Plank

The side plank is a challenging and effective exercise that primarily targets the core muscles, including the obliques, transverse abdominis, and glutes. This exercise involves supporting the body in a straight line from the feet or knees to the shoulder, with the body positioned on its side. Performing side planks on a regular basis can offer a range of benefits for the body:

Core Strength: The side plank is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening the core muscles. It specifically targets the obliques, which play a significant role in stabilizing the spine, improving posture, and preventing lower back pain. By holding the body in a side plank position, the deep core muscles are engaged to maintain stability, leading to improved core strength and overall functional fitness.

Stability and Balance: Side planks require significant stability and balance, as the exercise challenges the body to resist lateral forces. By performing side planks regularly, you can enhance stability in the shoulders, hips, and core, which is beneficial for sports performance, everyday activities, and injury prevention.

Improving Hip Strength: While primarily a core exercise, side planks also engage the gluteus medius muscle, which is responsible for stabilizing the hips. Strengthening this muscle can improve hip stability, reduce the risk of hip injuries, and enhance functional movement patterns in activities like walking, running, and lateral movements.

McKenzie Back Extensions

McKenzie back extensions, also known as the McKenzie Method or McKenzie exercises, are a set of therapeutic exercises designed to alleviate and manage back pain, particularly in cases related to disc bulges. These exercises focus on extension movements of the spine and offer several benefits for individuals with disc-related problems:

Centralization of Pain: One of the main principles of the McKenzie Method is the concept of centralization, where pain or symptoms are gradually move out of the legs and back towards the centre of the back. By performing McKenzie back extensions, especially in the morning, people who have pins and needles in their bum or down their leg might have reduced symptoms.  

Disc Rehydration and Decompression: McKenzie back extensions help facilitate disc rehydration and decompression. The repetitive extension movements create a pumping effect on the intervertebral discs, allowing fluid and nutrients to enter the discs while promoting the retraction of disc material that may be causing nerve compression. This process can lead to reduced pain and improved disc health.

Improved Flexibility and Mobility: Regular practice of McKenzie back extensions can help improve flexibility and mobility in the spine. The extension movements promote the stretching and lengthening of the spine's muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues, enhancing overall spinal mobility and range of motion.

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Assisted Squats

Assisted squats are a variation of the traditional squat exercise where additional support is provided to assist with the movement. This support can be in the form of a door handle to hold, squat rack, resistance bands, or using a stability ball against a wall. Assisted squats offer several benefits for individuals of varying fitness levels and can be particularly useful for beginners, those recovering from injuries, or individuals with mobility limitations. Here are some of the key benefits of incorporating assisted squats into your workout routine:

Improved Technique and Form: Assisted squats allow beginners or those new to squatting to focus on proper technique and form without the fear of falling or losing balance. By providing support, assisted squats help individuals maintain correct posture, alignment, and depth throughout the movement. This promotes safe and effective squatting mechanics, reducing the risk of injury and ensuring optimal muscle engagement.

A lot of issues occur in the back because we move too much in the back and we are stiff in our hips. Learning good squatting technique allows you again to learn how to keep the spine stable as you move through your hips. Dr. Eoin Everard states, “Assisted squats are another great exercise for people with back pain. We all need to be able to lift things, so learning how to do it correctly helps in all manner of tasks done daily. Again, I would recommend the BackAware Belt here if you don’t have someone to supervise you. Using this you will know you are moving through your hips and not your back”.

Glute Bridge

Glute bridges are a simple yet effective exercise that primarily targets the gluteal muscles, but they also offer several benefits for individuals experiencing back pain. Here are some of the key benefits of incorporating glute bridges into your exercise routine to help alleviate back pain:

Core Stability: Glute bridges engage the core muscles, including the deep abdominal muscles and the muscles along the spine. Strengthening these core muscles provides stability to the lumbar spine, reducing stress on the lower back and promoting proper alignment and posture.

Glute Activation: Glute bridges specifically target the gluteal muscles, including the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. These muscles play a crucial role in hip extension and stabilization. By strengthening the glutes, you improve hip stability and reduce the load on the lower back, which can alleviate back pain.

Improved Hip Mobility: Again as discussed with the assisted squats learning how to move smoothly through the hips will help take stress and strain off the lower back and enhance overall movement patterns, reducing the risk of back pain.

Spinal Decompression: When performing glute bridges, the hips are raised off the ground, which can create a decompressive effect on the spine. This decompression can help relieve pressure on the intervertebral discs and nerve roots, reducing back pain and discomfort.


As with any exercise program, it's advisable to consult with a qualified fitness professional or healthcare provider to ensure the bird-dog exercise is appropriate for your specific needs and to receive guidance on proper technique and progression.

For those who would like a free trial of Back Pilates you can visit

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