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Favourite Core-Strengthening Exercises to Keep Your Lower Back and Pelvis Healthy

Over the past two decades, I have utilized spinal adjustments, stretching, acupuncture, soft tissue work, and every major modality used in physiotherapy to address a wide range of back and hip issues. While all of these therapies can be helpful, in my experience, the most effective way to support a healthier lower back and pelvic region is to improve the functional strength of the muscles that control your core region. These muscles include your lower paraspinals, abdominals, hip flexors, and hip extensors.

For a look at two of my favourite exercises for strengthening the core region, please have a look at the following video:

As you would with all stretches and exercises, please be sure to do a thorough warm-up before you try these movements to reduce risk of injury. And if you have a significant history of issues in these areas, including joint replacement surgery or insertion of any other foreign material, please be sure to consult with your physician before you try these or any movements that are new to you.

There's more to optimizing the health and function of your pelvis and lower back, of course. Your body moves as a whole where each part affects all other parts, much as touching one strand on a spider web causes the entire web to waver. Regardless of how much time you are willing to put in to improve your ability to move, if you do the two exercises shown in the video above several times a week, you can expect to have a stronger and more functional core, which will translate to reduced risk of injury and better performance of physical tasks.

If you have any questions about these exercises, please feel free to share via the comments section below or at our Facebook page. I hope they prove to be helpful!

Related Posts:

Essential Stretches and Movement Exercises for Healthy Hips

How to Stretch and Foam Roll Your Inner Hip Region

Basic Stretches for the Soft Tissues that Surround and Affect Hip Function

Most Important Stretch For Preventing Low Back Pain


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Hi Dr Kim,
Would these exercises be appropriate in early pregnancy? Obviously I would start with the modified movements.

Absolutely, Cristy, they would only be helpful. I would run them by your physician just so he or she is aware of what you are doing to support your health leading up to delivery. Best of luck for happy and healthy days ahead.

I am so grateful to see this post, Dr. Kim. It could not have come at a better time as I was wrestling with lower back and hip pain for the last 2 weeks. I will start these 'treatments' today. Thanks a million!!!!! ; )

Thank you Olha, I hope these movements are helpful to you!

Dr. Kim, any adjustment for sore wrists? I am unable to support any weight without wrists hurting. If I try to "just do it", I end up with achy wrists for days.

I am 62 years old and fairly flexable and in the proper weight for my height. I have arthritis in my hands. Both hands may at different times during the night go to sleep, tingle and feel numb and heavy. It may be the whole hand or specifically the thumb, pointer and middle. Or at other times the ring and baby finger go to sleep. I've been to a physio therapist who has checked for nerve impulses which show they are in normal range. He suggested wearing a wrist brace at night. What is your opinion?

Hello Jeanette,

Please see:

I would also look at potential dietary causes of your arthritis if it is not a straight case of osteoarthritis. With any metabolic arthritis (rheumatoid being the most common), eliminating dairy and reducing intake of flesh meats can be helpful.

Good luck!

Hi Trish,

Please see the following for supporting your wrists:

Hopefully, over time, your wrists will get to a point where doing the movements in the video above are easy peasy. Good luck!

Hi Trish,

Please see the following for supporting your wrists:

Hopefully, over time, your wrists will get to a point where doing the movements in the video above are easy peasy. Good luck!

I've had lumbar fusion L3-4 just 15 weeks ago. I need to strengthen and stretch but would these be safe to do now? My dr has me on no restrictions at this point. Thank you. I always am helped by your posts. Tamara

Tamara, you should be able to try these on a slow and gradual basis. If you are working with a physiotherapist, please ask her or him to guide you the first few times. I hope that things go well in the months ahead.

Is this exercise suitable for a person with bulging and degenerating discs?

Harvinder, if you can do these movements without pain, then you are fine continuing with them. Bulging discs and degenerative arthritis are not always indicative of anything significant. Best to focus on improving your ability to move in different circumstances without generating pain.

Thanks for the information you regularly post. I wished to ask if the Core-strengthening stretches are appropriate for someone with spondylosis.

Yes, Matthew, as long as you don't experience pain while you do these movements, they should be helpful. Many cases of spondylosis are asymptomatic. The goal in every case is to optimize your ability to move.

Dr. Kim, I gave these exercises a try. However, every time I bring my left knee to my right elbow, I hear a pop in my spine. It happens every time I try this exercise. What is wrong?


It could be gas being released within a joint capsule, or possibly movement of a ligament or tendon over a bony prominence. As long as you are not experiencing pain as you do these movements, you should be fine to continue, but it is prudent to do these movements with a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or a movement coach watching for the first time - they may be able to verify the cause of the popping sound that you are hearing.

Hey Doc,
Great site, can you please tell me the name of the two exercise that you just showed us in this post? Thank You

Thank you Brett. I regret to tell you that I don't know if these exercises have names. I have seen them or similar versions over the years and have adopted them as personal favourites. I hope you find them helpful!

Thanks for this video.

If you regularly ride your bike, is there any use in doing these exercises? The only muscles of this group that cycling doesn't work are your abs. (And there are countless other ab exercises). I figure that cyclists' time would be better spent _stretching_ these muscles. Am I mistaken?

Hi Moorea - I think there is always some benefit from working on core strength and elongating the muscles that line our posterior chain (calves and hamstrings, mainly). With that said, as you mentioned, there are countless ways of strengthening the core, so I consider these two exercises as options among the many other core-building exercises in our video library.

For cyclists in particular, I feel that there is significant value in working on extension of the spine and stretching out the hip flexors, as well as working on hip mobility in general, as the repetitive motion is straight up and down with little to no internal and external rotation. Please look up "hip swivel," "spinal skipping rope," "rocking cobra," "unilateral bridge," and using proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation to stretch hip flexors in our search bar above - you will find exercises that I hope are helpful. 90/90 hip exercises as well - there are videos on all of these exercises and stretches in our archives. :)

Will do. Thanks, Dr. Kim!