By: Dr Sundeep Sandher

What is core strength?

Our core muscles help stabilize our spine and provide stability. A stable spine allows us to complete our daily tasks without discomfort and reduce the risk of injury (1). Our core musculature includes; rectus and transverse abdominins, internal and external oblique, quadratus lumborum, gluteal muscles, and paraspinals (1). 

About 80% of individuals experience low back pain in their lifetime (1). As a result, it is important for us to understand how you can prevent or reduce low back pain.

The following three exercises are derived from Dr. Stuart McGill, which help stabilize the spine and improve your muscular endurance. Dr. McGill explains that true spinal stability is achieved with a balanced stiffening of the spine through the core musculature (1).

1. Modified Curl-Up

  • Start by lying on your back
  • Bend one knee with your foot flat on the ground and keep the opposite leg straight. This allows the pelvis to stay in a neutral position.
  • Place both hands behind your low back at the level of the arch.
  • Brace your abdomen and ensure you can breath in and out during this hold.
  • Together as a whole lift your head, shoulder and upper back off the floor and hold this position for 10 seconds and reset. If your chin is protruding forward, try to maintain a double chin.
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions (2).  

2. Side Bridge

  • Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow. 
  • Keep your legs straight and bring your top foot forward and place infront of your bottom foot so they are crossed.
  • Place your top hand across on your bottom shoulder. 
  • As you lift your hip up, brace your core, glutes, and maintain neutral spine.
  • Hold for 8-10 seconds, and repeat 3 times (2). 

3. Bird Dog

  • Start in a quadruped position (on your hands and knees), and place your hands under your shoulders ,and knees directly under your hips. 
  • Brace your core and gluteal muscles and begin with bringing your left arm in front of you until your level with your shoulder. 
  • At the same time, bring your right leg back until it is level with your hips. Squeeze the glutes and shoulder blade muscles, and return to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat the same action. That is one repetition of the exercise. 
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions (2).  

These exercises can be a helpful tool help prevent and reduce low back pain. If you continue to experience low back pain or difficulties, always consult your health professional or come see our clinicians at our Oakville or Toronto locations to further assess and treat your injuries. Click here to book in online now!


 (1) Bailey, Aubrey. “Stuart McGill’s Big Three Back Exercises | Livestrong.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 

(2)   Callaghan, Julia. “THE BIG 3 EXERCISES FOR YOUR CORE.” Run Waterloo, 14 Feb. 2014,