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Lower Back Pain & Ab Exercises

By Katie Vann ; Updated August 14, 2017

One of the worst things you can do for your back is sit in a chair for eight hours a day. Realistically though, for many people with desk jobs, this sedentary lifestyle is unavoidable. As a result of lifestyle factors, poor posture and injuries, most people who live in the United States will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

The Lower Back

The bones in your spine create a support frame for the back and allow you to maintain proper posture. Connected to this frame are muscles and ligaments that increase your body's strength and stability.

Lower Back Pain

The causes of lower back pain are complex. According to Dr. Peter F. Ullrich Jr. at, lower back pain can be a result of a damaged intervertebral disc, irritated nerves in the lower back, damaged bones, ligaments or joints, a strained erector spinae or irritated large nerve roots that go to the legs and arms. Many individuals with back pain will have an unidentifiable anatomical cause.

Modified Ab Exercises

If you are experiencing lower back pain, see a doctor before beginning any exercise program. A doctor might refer you to a physical therapist who can apply a variety of treatment options such as heat, ice, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques. As the pain lessens with these therapies, you will be able to begin performing specific exercises to improve the strength of your back and abdominal muscles.

Beginner Ab Exercises

Once you have the approval by a physical therapist to begin doing light abdominal exercises, you will want to make adaptations to common ab exercises to avoid harming your back. Your therapist will likely instruct you to exercise 10 to 30 minutes a day, one to three times a day. They might suggest that you perform heel slides, abdominal contractions, wall squats or heel raises when you are first getting back into working out, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Intermediate to Advanced Ab Exercises

As your lower back gains strength, you can focus more exercises on your abdominal muscles. It is difficult on your back when you are performing any abdominal exercise that requires both of your feet to be off of the ground. Therefore, adapt exercises so one foot is always on the ground. For example, rather than lifting both legs off the ground for leg raises, keep one leg bent at the knee, with the foot on the ground. Raise your opposite leg up until the air. Lower and repeat exercise on both sides.

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