Fitness Plan - Introduction
Fitness Plan - Introduction
Fitness Plan - Introduction
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Resources
Fitness Plan - Resources
Fitness Plan - Resources

Functional Training

To strengthen your core — the parts of your body connected to above or below your pelvis — you should incorporate Foundation Training or yoga into your workout. For the intermediate fitness level, I advise doing Foundation Training or yoga exercises at least once a week.

Yoga is a technique that can make you become more physically flexible, but your mind and approach to life may gain some needed flexibility as well. Your body and your health will indeed change as you start implementing the correct lifestyle changes, and yoga has received increased attention lately.

The primary exercise you need to learn in Foundation Training is The Founder — everyone who does Foundation Training has to learn this integrated movement. According to Dr. Eric Goodman, creator of Foundation Training, The Founder “takes your entire posterior chain of muscles and pulls them together.”

The Founder helps reinforce proper movement while strengthening the entire back of your body by dispersing your weight through the posterior chains. This causes your weight to shift back toward your heels and "untuck" your pelvis. By doing so, you lengthen your hip flexors, gaining length at the front of your body.

Goodman says that the more frequently you do The Founder, the easier it will be for you to get into the progressive positions that follow.

Remember, your athletic ability, flexibility, balance, and strength are all dependent on powerful hips. With these Advanced Foundation Training exercises, all the muscles you need to keep your hips in optimal condition will be kept strong and flexible.1 To learn more about the benefits of Foundation Training, I highly recommend watching my interview with Eric Goodman.

I recommend purchasing Goodman’s Foundation Training — From Pain to Performance: 2–disc DVD set.

Foundation Training DVD

Purchase the Foundation Training — From Pain to Performance: 2-Disc DVDs

Effective Stretches and Exercises That Can Help Heal Your Lower Back Pain

Start slowly when using these stretches and strengthening exercises. If you experience pain, back off the intensity of your program. It is crucial to have proper body alignment during the exercises in order to stretch and strengthen the right muscles. Below are a list of standard stretches that can be very helpful.

Hamstring Stretch

The standing stretch is the most common, although it also places more stress on your lower back. Instead, use a seated or wall stretch. A seated stretch begins with you seated in a firm chair. Extend one leg and reach down slowly to touch your toe.

Change legs and stretch the other side. A wall stretch is done lying on your back with your buttocks up against a wall or high-back chair. Place the foot against the wall or chair and make the knee as straight as you can.2 As you progress you'll be able to get closer to your toes in the seated position or your knee straighter while on the floor. It is important to stretch gradually and not push so hard you strain the muscle.

Gluteal Stretch

Your gluteal muscles are interconnected with your lower back. Stretch and relax these muscles by lying on your back with both knees bent and your lower back flattened to the floor. Draw one knee to your chest, while you keep the other foot on the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with your other leg. Stretch both legs twice, once daily.3

Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle is small and located deep in your buttocks. When it spasms it can cause pain your buttocks and irritate the sciatic nerve, triggering pain down your leg. The muscle stabilizes the hip joint, lifting and rotating the thigh away from the body. It is involved in almost every movement of your legs and hips.4

Lie on your back with both feet flat to the floor and knees bent. Place your right ankle on your left knee. Grab your left thigh and pull the leg toward your chest. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds. Release and repeat on the other side.5

Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexors are a group of muscles that connect your pelvis, leg and abdomen. These are some of the most powerful muscles in your body, responsible for flexing your hip and raising your leg. Sitting for long periods of time and competitive swimming, are two activities causing the flexor muscles to tighten and affect your lower back.6,7

A kneeling hip flexor stretch starts with you on your knees on the floor. Holding on to a chair or other solid object, place one leg behind you and lean in slightly to the chair. The glute bridge stretch does more than stretch your hip flexors, it also works your gluteal muscles and abs.8

Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart, flatten your back to the floor and exhale while raising your hips off the floor. Tighten your glutes when you get to the top. Inhale and return to the starting position.9

Quadriceps Stretch

If you have tight quadriceps, they will affect the tilt of your pelvis and therefore your lower back. Common stretches require you to bend your knee until your heel touches your buttocks. However, this stretch places increased stress on your knee joint. Instead, you can stretch your quadriceps without bending your knee.

Standing next to a chair, bed or table, extend your right leg behind you. Hold on to a chair for stability and prevent falling. Keeping your body upright, align your left hip over your left heel maintaining left hip and foot in a forward position. Tighten your glutes and imagine your right leg extending through your right hip. You should feel light tension in both your hip and quads. Repeat on the other leg.10

Lower Back Stretch

The goal is to stretch and relax your lower back muscles without adding stress or pressure to the area. Lie on your back with your buttocks as close to a wall as possible. Raise your legs straight up the wall and scoot in closer to the wall. Press your lower back into the floor and relax.11


Strong abdominal and back muscles will help protect your lower back and improve your ability to stand and sit with correct posture. Planks will strengthen your shoulders, abs, back, glutes and the large muscles in your legs.

Lie on your stomach. Rise up on your elbows, holding your elbows directly below your shoulders. Pull your body up on your toes and hold a position similar to doing a push-up, except you are on your elbows. Work up to holding for three minutes. For a program to help you achieve this goal, see my article "30-Day Plank Challenge."

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Not all back pain originates from the same source. However, keeping your hips, pelvis, rib cage and core muscles in alignment helps you to use your body correctly and reduce the potential for further back pain. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques are a good way to stabilize your back and naturally add traction to your spine.

Lie on your back with your heels on a chair. Align your position so there is a 90-degree angle at your hips and your knees. This might require you to experiment with different chairs to find one at the right height for you. Place a pillow between your legs.

Without using your lower back, activate your glutes and your abdominal muscles to raise your buttocks off the floor just a few inches. In this bridge position, inhale deeply through your nose, feeling your lower ribs rotate outward to fill your lungs. Exhale completely using your core muscles to internally rotate your ribs. Inhale for a count of five, exhale for a count of seven and pause for a count of three. Do this five times, maintaining the bridge position, then rest. Repeat one more time.13

Foam Rolling Hamstrings and Quadriceps

Foam rolling your hamstrings and quadriceps muscles helps the muscles to relax, give you a deep tissue massage and speed healing. These muscles contribute to your lower back pain. Roll over a foam roller just one to three times each day for the hamstrings and quadriceps, after doing your strengthening and stretching exercises.