7 Foundation Back Exercises for Pain Relief

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Foundation Back Exercises

Foundation back Exercises consist of movement patterns where the human body works to lift pressure off the joints.

They are designed to strengthen all the muscles in the posterior chain to combat the negative effects of a modern lifestyle from all-day sitting or forward shoulder rounding.

Below are 7 foundation exercises to heal chronic lower back pain.

7 Foundation Training Exercises for Your Back Side

The videos below include a demonstration of a few of the movements from the personal trainer, Dr. Eric Goodman, and his team.

He created the proven program known as foundation training while attending chiropractic school.

Unfortunately, I had to find walk-throughs from separate channels for the second, fourth, and fifth exercises.

Take your time with these exercises and if you’re confused or aren’t sure if you’re doing them properly, refer to the videos.

Every step matters and just going through the motions isn’t enough.

Don’t be afraid to schedule a physical therapy session and tell the therapist what you’re trying to accomplish.

They’ll hopefully be able to answer any questions you have while monitoring your form.

1. The Founder

When it comes to foundation training, the founder is an OG exercise that’s praised by influential people in the fitness world.

Including the former strength coach of Lance Armstrong.

It’s used as a way to reactivate the hamstrings and glutes, and the core muscles located in the lower back.

Your arms will act as levers to put static isolation on your spine as you move into the stretch.

This is going to relieve back and knee pain by increasing flexibility.

Plus, the use of shoulder flexion will help improve mobility in your upper back.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder or hip-width apart.
  2. Hip hinge and slightly bend your knees.
  3. Keep your arms straight by your sides with your torso leaned forward at an angle.
  4. Inhale.
  5. Move your arms overhead.
  6. Hip hinge a bit more and take another breath in.
  7. Go a few steps further by:
  8. Curving forward to touch your toes.
  9. Bend your knees even further and grab a hold of your shins while maintaining a neutral spine.
  10. Slowly raise your upper body upright and move your hands to your knees.
  11. Enter into the starting position with your arms back and torso bent forward.
  12. Once again, raise your arms overhead, holding for 10 seconds.
  13. Repeat the entire exercise 2 times.

2. Good Morning

The good morning is more of a fast-paced, functional movement for targeting the posterior chain.

To be honest, I have no clue who gave the exercise its name, but it works wonders so I ain’t gonna complain.

The main motion performed with this is the hip hinge.

Specifically stretching the hamstrings and isolating the erector spinae.

Although good mornings can be done with added weight, it’s important to refrain until you get used to them.

You’ll notice a lot of debate around this one, some saying it’s horrible for your back, and others saying that it’s a savior for your vertebral column.

I agree with the latter, however, that’s assuming your form is good.

Let’s go over it:

  1. Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Retract your scapula and bring your arms to chest level.
  3. Hip hinge and lean your body forward so it’s at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  4. With a slight bend in your knees, lower yourself toward the floor, stopping above parallel.
  5. Extend back up and repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

3. Lunge Stretch

Surprisingly, the lunge stretch doesn’t just emphasize the posterior chain.

But hits the large muscles in the front of your thighs known as the quads.

However, the Doctor Eric Goodman version focuses on stretching the rib cage and hip flexors, with an extension of the lumbar region.

He makes it extra spicy by adding in calf raises, which is a muscle that shouldn’t be slept on.

It’s a fairly complex yoga-style exercise that’s super beneficial for practicing balance and improving range of motion.

  1. Step forward with your right foot flat and backward with your left heel planted.
  2. Make sure to keep your right knee behind your toes.
  3. Lift your arms straight up.
  4. Pull your spine into an extension.
  5. Bend to the right side without moving your legs (optional).
  6. Press onto the toes of your left foot.
  7. Move them back down and repeat 10-15 reps.
  8. Switch sides entirely.

4. Woodpecker

Is your woodpecker stiff?

Don’t worry, cuz this exercise will get you nice and loose to shift your pelvis into proper alignment.

You should notice a deep stretch within the hamstrings and glutes.

The arms will also be elevated for spinal decompression.

Along with either a dynamic or static spine rotation (you choose) for lengthening the lower back and lats.

The initial setup is identical to a lunge stretch.

To do it:

  1. Assume a lunge position with your rear leg straight.
  2. Place your hands by your chest.
  3. Retract your scapula and move your chest over your knee as far as you can.
  4. Straighten your arms behind you and externally rotate them. Hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Bring your arms forward, extending them overhead.
  6. You can also rotate your body to the right. Hold here.
  7. Turn to the left and hold.

5. Windmill

You may not be able to produce electricity with this type of windmill, but you will be able to strengthen your core, delts, and hip extensors.

The movement pattern requires you to go through three planes of motion; sagittal, frontal, and transverse.

It’s also unilateral, meaning each set of rotations focuses on one side of your body at a time.

A great way to find and repair imbalances.

  1. Spread your legs apart 1.5x the width of your shoulders.
  2. Hinge your hips and place your palms flat on the ground.
  3. Raise your right arm straight into the air while rotating your torso, without moving your left hand.
  4. Return it to the floor and repeat for reps.
  5. Switch to the left arm.

6. Decompression Breathing

Decompression breathing is the basis of every exercise within the foundation training system.

The goal is to release the tension on your torso for reactivating the posterior chain.

As you breathe in deeply your sternum begins to expand, lengthening your body into realignment.

Leading to postural improvements that transfer pressure from the anterior chain to the posterior chain where it belongs.

This might be a tricky process at first.

Take your time and practice first thing in the morning and before bed.

Remember, to do the other foundation exercises effectively, you need to be able to breathe correctly.

  1. Stand tall with your thumbs on the shelf of your ribs and feet square.
  2. Set your pinky fingers on the hip bones.
  3. Inhale through your nose into the chest while pulling your belly in and keeping your chin tucked back.
  4. Exhale without letting your body compress.

7. 8-Point Plank

This is an advanced plank variation that focuses heavily on breathing during abdominal elevations while building tension.

The goal is to expand the curvature of your thoracic spine.

It got the name 8-point plank because there will be 8 extremities planted on the ground during the entire sequence.

Including the kneecaps, toes, elbows, and palms.

  1. Using a yoga mat, lay flat on your stomach.
  2. Prop up on your elbows, setting them in front of your shoulder blades.
  3. Your palms should be flat on the floor.
  4. Press your toes into the ground, directly under the heels.
  5. Look down at the floor and pull your nose/throat inward.
  6. Breathe into each section of your back, and engage your core.
  7. Inhale again, then lift your hips off the ground.
  8. Squeeze your elbows and knees toward one another without actually moving them.
  9. Take deep breaths in and out.
  10. Return to the starting position and repeat.

You can take it a step further by performing pulse breaths as you hold your midsection off the ground.

Refer to 2:25 in the video to see the trainers teach that part.

What Is Foundation Training for Your Back?

Foundation training for your back utilizes bodyweight exercises for strengthening the muscles in your core and posterior chain.

The idea is to create a shield of support around the neck and spine to improve posture and relieve pain.

As you practice the movement patterns your spine will begin to decompress and the neuromuscular system begins to activate.

And the ability to properly engage the right muscles during day-to-day activities will be enhanced.

These methods are even used as a remedy for shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

Who Should Do It?

Most People with Chronic Pain can benefit from adding foundation training to their workout routine.

This tool was actually researched and developed over many years of working with professional athletes.

However, it can be tailored to any person looking to build confidence in life or sport by unleashing total body awareness, muscle efficiency, and injury prevention.

You may find it useful if you’re an:

  • Athlete
  • Office Worker
  • Trainer or Coach
  • Manual Laborer


Whether you’re a pro or a hobbyist athlete, you can take advantage of foundation training.

It’ll help you execute quick movements more efficiently since your muscles will be well-balanced.

Along with promoting recovery by increasing blood flow and digestion and decreasing tension through breathing techniques.

Office Workers

Sitting at an office takes a toll on the body, and over time causes poor posture, increasing your risk of muscular atrophy.

You can prevent these tragedies by using foundation training between your meetings or during lunch breaks to keep everything aligned and strong.

You don’t need any equipment, which is nice.

Trainers and Coaches

If you’re a trainer or coach, you may want to add some of these foundation exercises into your client’s workout routine.

Especially if they’re rehabbing from an injury or lack the ability to activate their back muscles.

Manual Laborers

Picking up heavy objects or repetitive swinging motions, with a sledgehammer, for example, may cause overuse injuries.

What’s more, if you’re unable to engage the posterior chain during these activities, your body is more susceptible to tears or strain.

Foundation training is a great way to ensure you have a strong mind-to-muscle connection where it matters, so your back stays pain-free.

FAQ About Foundation Training

Is Foundation Training Good for Back Pain?

Yes, foundation training is good for back pain relief.

It does so by strengthening the muscles around your spine and protecting the joints.

How Often Should You Do Foundation Training?

You should do foundation training at least 2-3 days per week for 15-30 minutes to achieve optimal results in strength and mobility.

Does Foundation Training Really Work?

Yes, foundation training does really work by stretching the muscles in front of your body through a series of movement patterns and decompression breathing.

This leads to a stronger posterior chain (back of the body) due to an increase in muscular activation.

What Happens After Foundation Training?

After foundation training, you can expect your spine to become decompressed, and the neuromuscular connection in your back, glutes, and hamstrings to be enhanced.

Kick the Pain Killers With These Foundation Exercises!

Our bodies’ back health is soo critical for maintaining good posture and fending off the negative effects of aging and sitting.

That’s where these exercises come in.

Remember, foundation training workouts aren’t reserved for Olympic athletes.

If you’re looking to relieve chronic lower back pain or just strengthen the muscles in the back of your body, don’t hesitate to do these!




Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at edecremer@wildnswole.com!