There is a simple solution to your bowed stomach and lower back pain; the plank. Here are five variations on the plank to get you started and keep you challenged as you become stronger. Begin with the basic plank and work up to the variations.
The Basic Plank:
Start in a horizontal position with elbows directly under your shoulders, hands straight and flat on the floor. Anchor yourself on your toes, the same way you would in a push up. In this position hold your body straight and ridged like a “plank” of wood. Your abdominal, buttocks and thigh muscles should all be contracted. Focus on breathing normally.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. It is more important to plank properly than to hold it for a long period of time. If hips, head or shoulders fall out of line the exercise will be ineffective. If you find this to be too difficult, or your lower back pain is aggravated by it, plank from your knees until you gain strength.
Rest for one minute and repeat three to five times. When you can do this successfully try one of the variations listed.
Plank Hip Flexion and Extension:
Start in the basic plank position. Raise your right leg 6-8 inches off the floor. Hold the leg in this new position for five seconds, then change legs and repeat. When you are able to complete three to four reps, challenge yourself by bending your knee and bringing it momentarily to your elbow. Your goal for this move is five reps on each side.
Plank with Thoracic Spine Rotation:
From the basic plank position rotate your left side by raising your left arm and aligning your feet and hips towards the ceiling. All of your weight should be on your right arm and right foot. Your body should continue to stay inline, be sure to keep your hips from sagging towards the floor. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and return to the basic plank position. Repeat the move on the other side. Shoot to complete three to six reps per side.
Side Plank with Full Extension:
This move has two levels of progression. First begin with a side plank, the elbow directly under the shoulder. Ensure you are maintaining form by contracting your abdominal and squeezing your buttocks and thighs, as you press your thighs together. Hold this for a 20 seconds and alternate sides.
When you are comfortable with this you can then begin level two. From the side-ying position extend your weight baring arm like you would in a push up. While doing so, keep the side of your weight baring foot grounded in place. Maintain this position for 15 seconds and repeat on your other side.
From the basic plank position move the right hand into push up position, followed by the left. Immediately return the right hand to basic plank position, with your weight on your elbow, follow with the left hand. Repeat the entire move three to five times.
Standing Two-arm Press from Cable Column
This move assumes you have access to a cable-column machine. Start with the pulley at chest height and positioned to the right side of your body. Plant your feet and bend your knees. Pull in your abdominal muscles and stabilize your core. With both hands grasp the handle and push the cable out way from the body. The weight you choose should be challenging for six to eight reps. Repeat this move on the left side of your body. To vary difficulty try performing this move with feet close together or from a staggered stance.
Remember, these exercises get easier with time, and so will your lower back pain.