Rates of back pain have doubled since the early ’90s, a recent survey suggests. Now a review of 14 studies shows that exercising often-neglected muscles can boost your improvement by 15 percent. The key is to work your deep trunk muscles, which support and control the spine. To ward off trouble:
1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Keep spine in a neutral position (not arched or pressed against the floor). Raise the left leg; at the same time, raise the right arm and sweep it back to lie flat on the floor. Return to beginning position; repeat on opposite side. Do five repetitions. Gradually increase reps to ten.
2. On all fours, with your spine in the neutral position, lift one arm so it’s parallel to the floor. Lower it, then raise and lower the other arm. Repeat five times. Then lift one leg to the back, parallel to the floor. Lower it, then raise and lower the other leg. Do five reps. Work up to lifting arm and opposite leg simultaneously; gradually increase reps to ten.
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