Doing Stick Ups and Ab Prone Cobra to Relieve Back Pain

Doing Stick Ups and Ab Prone Cobra to Relieve Back Pain

Posted on 07. Feb, 2010 by in Exercise

Eversince I was in college (which seems like ages ago), I’ve had this pain on my mid-back. It usually flares up during mid-terms and finals when I would be studying a lot and pulling off all-nighters so I can get some last minute studying in before the exam. After awhile, this pain went away until about a few months ago. This time though, it was not letting up.

Before, a trip to the gym and doing some cable back rows will usually alleviate the pain. Since I go to the gym fairly consistently, I would do my usual remedy and hoping that it will do the trick. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t. Because of this, I decided to go to a chiropractor. After my visit, the pain would go away for a few days only to come back again. So, after my third visit, my chiropractor suggested that I perform some specific exercises in between visits to help with the pain. I assured him that I perform some on my own but he gave me a different one anyway.

Before I continue with the solution, I want to emphasize that my pain probably comes from having bad posture while sitting in front of the computer (or, in the past, studying) for long periods of time. After awhile of being in this position (since college), it got harder to correct it by trial and error because I really didn’t know what was causing it. Now that I think about this issue even further, I also believe that the pain worsens when I do a lot exercises with my shoulder such as kettlebell snatches and not perform any mobility exercises for them. But, I also want to emphasize the fact that some people feel pain on their lower back which can be caused by many factors such as weight concentrated in the mid-section and poor core strength, just to name a few. So, the exercises that I’m about to discuss would mostly deal with bad posture.

The one exercise that helped me a lot: Stick Ups

I’ve done stick ups before for warm-up as Craig Ballantyne will use it every now and then when he creates his Turbulence Training Workouts. However, I never really thought that it would help my back pain.

Here is a great video of Craig demonstrating the stick up. It’s the first exercise that he discusses in this video:

So, as soon as my back pain flares up, I head on over to an empty wall and start doing stick ups. I was completely surprised when the pain went away! Talk about, immediate results. Now, I just love to include this exercise in my warm-ups and workouts that I design for my clients because it is a simple yet very effective exercise.

Another exercise that I like to do is the Ab Prone Cobra. This exercise tends to help strengthen your Rhomboids (the muscles in between your shoulder blades) which get weak over time because of poor posture. Here is a good video on how to perform the Ab Prone Cobra:

As you can see from both exercises, they tend to put your upper body in the opposite position that you would be if you were hunched over. So, doing these exercises on a regular basis will improve your posture and decrease mid-back pain (if you have it). It’s crazy how a simple adjustment at the chiropractor (which feels good by the way) coupled with these exercises has helped me with my back pain. I’m glad that I didn’t have to resort to pain relievers which only relieve my pain temporarily.

I wrote this post for 3 reasons: 1) to tell people that pain relievers are not the only answer to reducing pain, 2) to promote the chiropractic profession because they do more than just “adjust” people, and 3) to help people be proactive about their posture. As I get older, I tend to value good posture a lot which I took for granted in my younger days and I hope that the people who read this blog/post may do the same.

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  • I’ve had back pain attacks after giving birth – mostly because of how my spine position, alignment changed during pregnancy. I’ve done exercises to alleviate and swallowed too many pills.

    I’ve had pain for years. Last year when I started exercising (seriously) and losing overall weight, the pain is gone!! I didn’t have a back pain episode for months now.

    There are several causes of back pain, differs from person to person but for me, weight loss helped a lot. I love those two exercises, btw.

  • admin

    Hi Grace, I would assume you back pain used to come from your lower back? Yes, when people carry their weight there, they usually develop back pain because it accentuates the arch of your back past its normal position. That is why losing weight helped you. Just one of the many benefits of losing weight 🙂


  • Clement

    Nice post! I have different goals from you as I’m a guy and am looking to get hard-core fit, but I still enjoy your content. The stick up is an awesome offday rehab movement for your upper back while the ab cobra targets the lower and mid back more, I gather?

  • admin

    Hi Clement, thank you for your kind words. The Ab Prone Cobra, when done correctly, targets your Rhomboids (muscles in between shoulders). Make sure you chest doesn’t come off the ground and you’re pulling your shoulder blades together when you come up. Have fun with it!


  • Stick Ups are a great bodyweight workout! They are surprisingly hard especially if you do sets of 30 onwards. The back and shoulders will burn!

  • admin

    Hey Daniel, it is for sure. Simple but hard 🙂


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