The 3 Exercises You Need For a Healthy Back and Strong Core
When I was 7, my dad decided to sign me up for my first soccer team. I remember being completely uninterested, but I agreed to at least try it out. After my first practice, I never looked back! In the years to follow, I would go on to join every team possible playing volleyball, basketball, and soccer and running track and field. I was drawn to sports and found that I could be as intense and competitive as I wanted, and I also really enjoyed winning. Eventually, I narrowed down my participation to soccer and track and field and would go on to become a Division 1, All-American sprinter.
Track and field opened up many doors and allowed me to travel the world, meeting lifelong friends. Another great thing about being an athlete was that I learned the importance of taking care of my body inside and out. I worked with world-class training and coaching staffs who made sure I was in tip-top shape both on and off the track in order to compete at an elite level. But, inevitably, due to all my years of training, my body has gone through a ton of wear and tear.
When my lower-back pain came out of nowhere in November 2017, I was completely caught off guard. Through all my years of training, the worst "injury" I had experienced was a tight hamstring from overuse and raspberries from slide tackling. Now I was facing sporadic spasms and the inability to walk more than one mile without pain. I found myself struggling to train clients and could no longer do the things I had done my entire life, like Olympic lifting, plyometrics, and sprinting.
Back pain is estimated to affect 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives, with 31 million Americans experiencing back pain at any given point in time, according to the American Chiropractic Association. The good news is back pain can be alleviated with the proper approach and diligence. Dr. Stuart McGill, a world-renowned professor of spine biomechanics, created the "Big Three" exercises to improve the endurance of the muscles that surround your spine and protect your back. These exercises allow you to strengthen your core while maintaining stability and control without irritating your back. McGill shared in his book Back Mechanic that these moves "are able to prevent painful joint micro-movements for several hours."
Back pain can be frustrating to deal with, but these three movements, done daily, will have you on your way to a stronger core and a healthier back!