2 Simple Core Exercises for Your Cranky Back

Golfers can improve their lower back health by building core strength, but which exercises are best?

Note: this article pertains to golfers with mild chronic lower back pain and stiffness. if you have a more serious injury or severe symptoms, seek the advice of a medical professional before you begin an exercise program.

Are you performing a lot of crunches and sit-ups, but your back isn’t improving? That’s because these exercises aren’t great for improving stability of your core. Even another popular exercise, the Plank, is deceivingly tricky to perform properly. The key to great core strength is a muscle you’ve probably never heard of: the Transverse Abdominis (TA).

The Ab Muscle You Can't See (but not because of your belly!)

The Transverse Abdominis is a deep abdominal muscle that stabilizes the spine and pelvis before body movement occurs. Research has proven that people without back pain are very good at activating this muscle. In most cases, golfers with back pain likely don’t activate the TA before movement, which results in the lower back taking a beating.

Here are a few exercises you can do to strengthen this muscle:

I really like the “Bird Dog” and “Modified Side Plank” exercises because they’re effective for activating the Transverse Abdominis. If you’re sick of you naggy lower back, give them a try. Make sure to take a look at my tips/notes (below) before doing these exercises.


This exercise is harder than it looks. Here are a few notes to help you perform it properly:

  • Your primary focus is keeping your lower belly drawn in and your lower back stable
  • Perform the movements slowly
  • 2-3 sets x 10 reps/side
  • To keep it simple, perform 10 reps on one side before switching (instead of alternating)


In the video, you’ll see two variations. Perform the first one at least a few times before progressing to the second. A few additional notes:

  • Set up is key: when you lift up into the plank, make sure to push your hips forward
  • Don’t hold your breath during the exercise
  • Focus on tightening your abs and glutes (butt)
  • 2-3 sets x 10-60 seconds (at first, probably much closer to 10 than 60)

We want to build endurance, but end the set when you feel like you’re close to losing form (that’s important!).

If you try these exercises and you find them to be too challenging or uncomfortable, do not continue, until you have consulted with your physician. All exercises for golf should be customized to your needs after a proper evaluation.

Picture of Jason Rivkin

Jason Rivkin

Golf Fitness Coach
FitGolf Performance Centers of the Delaware Valley
Questions? Email me at [email protected]

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