Back to Basics: Revolutionise Your Spine Health with Simple, Effective Strategies

May 07, 2024

Explore with us how to Strengthen and Pain-Proof Your Back


Back health is crucial for everyone, whether you're currently experiencing back pain or you're interested in prevention strategies to maintain a strong, healthy back. This blog delves into effective exercises and practices, inspired by Dr. Andrew Huberman and Stu McGill, tailored for both managing existing back pain and preventing future issues.


Why Focus on Back Health?

Back health is a cornerstone of overall well-being. It influences everything from our ability to carry shopping to our performance in sports and our comfort while sitting at a desk. According to the World Health Organisation, up to 70% of people in industrialised countries will experience back pain at some point in their lives. By strengthening the back, we not only prevent pain but also enhance our functional capacity and overall quality of life.

For Those Suffering from Back Pain

If you're currently experiencing back pain, it's important to approach exercise with caution and focus on gentle, stabilising movements that do not exacerbate your pain. It does of course also depend on the cause of the pain and is worth checking with your Dr before you give it a whirl.

Back pain is commonly attributed to several factors, including:

  1. Muscle or Ligament Strain: Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. Prolonged poor posture can also contribute significantly to back pain.

  2. Bulging or Ruptured Discs: Discs act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The soft material inside a disc can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve. However, it is also possible to have a bulging or ruptured disc without back pain. Disc disease is often found incidentally when you have spine X-rays for some other reason.

  3. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.

  4. Skeletal Irregularities: A condition in which your spine curves to the side (scoliosis) can lead to back pain, but generally only if the scoliosis is severe.

  5. Osteoporosis: Your spine's vertebrae can develop painful fractures if your bones become porous and brittle.

For Those Aiming to Prevent Back Pain

Preventive measures are key to avoiding most back pain. The following exercises focus on strengthening and stabilising the back and core muscles to prevent future injuries.

Preventive Strengthening Exercises

  1. Side Plank

    • Position: Lie on your side with your legs extended and feet stacked. Prop your upper body up on your forearm.
    • Execution: Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Hold this position, then slowly lower back down.
    • Benefit: Strengthens the core and spinal muscles, improving overall stability.
  2. Bird Dog

    • Position: Start on all fours, ensuring your back is neutral, and hands are under shoulders.
    • Execution: Extend opposite arm and leg, maintaining balance and stability. Hold briefly before switching.
    • Benefit: Enhances coordination and spinal stability, which is essential for injury prevention.
  3. Curl Up

    • Position: Lie on your back with one leg extended and the other bent. Hands are placed under the lower back to maintain its natural curve.
    • Execution: Gently lift your head and shoulders, keeping your neck in a neutral position. Focus on engaging your core.
    • Benefit: Activates the deep abdominal muscles which support the spine, crucial for maintaining spinal integrity.

Integrated Approach Using R1SE Practices

At R1SE, we emphasise a holistic approach to body movement, integrating exercises that benefit everyone, regardless of their current back health status. Our focus on proper form, balanced routines, and regular activity supports both rehabilitation and prevention, helping our community stay strong and resilient. 

Worth knowing: Another awesome way to create space for the nerve pathways and alleviate pressure if you're suffering from a bulging disc, are by going upside down on our Inversion table or using the Aerial Yoga sling to support a hanging inversion #bemorebat

So in classes you may hear the instructors mention distal exercises such as spreading out the toes, this focuses on the idea of enhancing overall body awareness and improving the function of stabilisation muscles that contribute to overall posture and spinal alignment. Here’s a detailed look into why such exercises like toe spreading are beneficial:

  1. Enhancing Neuromuscular Control: Distal exercises, like toe spreading, help improve neuromuscular control, which is the ability of the nervous system to coordinate muscle actions efficiently. This control is vital for maintaining balance and stability, which are crucial for a healthy spine.

  2. Strengthening the Foot's Arch: Spreading the toes can strengthen the muscles that support the arches of your feet. Healthy foot arches are essential for proper weight distribution and alignment as you stand, walk, or run. Since the feet are the foundation of the body, strengthening them helps in maintaining better alignment and reducing strain on the spine.

  3. Improving Proprioception: Proprioception is the body's ability to perceive its position and movement in space. By practicing toe-spreading exercises, individuals can enhance their proprioceptive feedback from the feet to the rest of the body. Better proprioception means better movement coordination and reduced risk of injury, including potential back injuries.

  4. Encouraging Full-Body Integration: Exercises that focus on distal parts of the body, like the toes, encourage a more holistic approach to physical health. By activating the muscles in the feet, there is a cascading effect of muscle activation up through the legs, hips, and into the spine. This full-body integration helps in supporting and stabilising the spine more effectively.

  5. Reducing Compensations: Weaknesses in the feet can lead to compensatory patterns elsewhere in the body, often manifesting as pain or dysfunction in the knees, hips, or back. Strengthening the feet and improving their functionality can reduce these compensatory patterns and directly alleviate some types of back pain.

Through exercises like spreading the toes, individuals not only focus on a specific area but also contribute to the health and functionality of their overall musculoskeletal system, which includes the spine. This practice underlines a fundamental principle in body mechanics—that strengthening and improving function in one part of the body can have positive repercussions on overall health, particularly spinal health.


Whilst we are not claiming to be medical professionals we hope this blog post aims to highlight some of the many things we do at R1SE that can help manage or prevent certain types of back pain. Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can lead to significant improvements in your back's strength and flexibility. 

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