Four exercises to help strengthen your core

Chronic lower back pain is a common ailment suffered by nurses and midwives.

The demands of the professions mean nurses and midwives are invariably on their feet, take on strenuous workloads and shift work, and undertake heavy lifting, which all leads to increased susceptibility.

Keeping core muscles strong can help ward off a bad back and help nurses and midwives maintain their physical health and cope with everyday tasks of the job.

Try out four core-strengthening exercises that can help improve chronic low back pain.


Planking strengthens the abdominals, back and shoulders. There are many different varieties but the most common plank is the forearm plank, which involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for as long as possible, with the body’s weight on the forearms, elbows and toes. Variations include the side plank and half plank.

Bird Dog

The Bird Dog exercise is a core exercise aiming to improve lower back strength and balance by targeting the abdominals and activating the spine, glutes and shoulder muscles. To perform the exercise, get on your hands and knees, then without moving your pelvis, lift one arm and the opposite leg into the air until fully extended. Keep the arm and leg outstretched for about 10 seconds before returning and repeating with the other side.


Bridge exercises offer an ideal way to isolate and strengthen the gluteus muscles and hamstrings. For this exercise, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Tighten your abdominal muscles and avoid holding your breath, then lift your buttocks off the ground and hold for 10-20 seconds.

Dead Bugs

Dead Bugs target the abdominal muscles and help maintain core stability. Lie on your back with your hands extended above you and bring your feet, knees and hips to a 90-degree so that your calves are parallel to the ground. Contract your stomach muscles and keep your back flat against the ground. Maintain this position then lower and straighten one leg, and raise your opposite arm overhead, making sure your lower back never arches. Return to the starting position and change sides.

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