3 Moves – Better Spine Health

The "Big Three"

The Basics

WHAT: The “Big Three” exercises guide; proven to keep the spine in a good health.

SOURCE: Based on research by Dr. Stuart McGill, the University of Waterloo,  Canada

And Harvard Medical School

GREAT FOR: Healthy Spine, Posture, Exercising, Body Strength, Wellness


Spinal instability can contribute to low back pain, but fortunately the “only three” exercises can help.

A strong core can stabilize your spine to help keep your lower back healthy and pain-free. The muscles surrounding your spine can weaken with age or from an injury. That can make movements such as twisting, stretching, lifting or bending difficult.

This is why healthier movements reduce pressure on the low back and lower the risk of pain and injury. Worries such as thoracic spine pain, stenosis of the spine or searching for a spine doctor near you can fade away if you look closely at what is behind the movement for a healthy spine. 

This makes things much easier when comes to making movements that require sudden strength and a broad range of motion, like lifting and carrying groceries and placing them on the counter or floor. We want to avoid lower spine pain. 

Spine stability means your entire torso is working together in rhythm, like a music band. If one thing is off, it can affect the entire structure.

The question now is how do you get a stable spine?

"Big Three"

Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, is talking and explaining about “big three” exercises such us: curl-up, the side plank, and the bird-dog.


1. Lie on your back. Extend one leg straight out on the floor. Bend the knee of your other leg so your foot is flat on the floor.

2. Put your hands under your lower back to maintain the natural arch of your spine.

3. On an exhalation, lift your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor. Don’t bend your lower back, tuck your chin, or let your head tilt back.

4. Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly lower yourself down.

5. Complete five reps, then switch leg positions and repeat the sequence to complete the exercise.

Side Plank

1. Lie on your side with your upper body propped up on your arm, with your forearm on the floor and your elbow underneath your shoulder. Place your free hand on the top of your hip. Pull your feet back, so your knees are at a 90° angle.

2. Lift your hips off the floor so they are in line with the rest of your body, and hold for up to 10 seconds. Try to maintain a straight line from your head to your knees. Slowly lower your hips back down to the floor.

3. Repeat five times, then flip to your other side and repeat the sequence to complete the exercise.

Variation: For a challenge, straighten your legs instead of bending them.


1. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees.

2. Raise your left arm and extend it forward as far as possible while simultaneously lifting your right leg and extending it straight behind your body. Keep both the raised arm and leg parallel to the floor. Ensure your hips are aligned with your torso and not tilted to one side.

3. Hold for 10 seconds and then return to the starting position.

4. Repeat five times, then switch to the other arm and leg and repeat the sequence to complete the exercise.

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