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10 Exercises to strengthen your lower back

10 Exercises to strengthen your lower back

Lower back pain is one of the top three reasons people visit their doctor, right along upper respiratory infections and abdominal symptoms. Given the prevalence of lower back pain, and the many reasons for its appearance, it is almost certain that at any given point throughout our lives we will experience low back pain to some degree.

One way to help avoid it could consist of exercising the muscles of your lower back and core. Strengthening your lower back can improve posture and will help you avoid injury when performing the activities of daily living.

We have complied a list of back exercises that will help strengthen your back and in time help you control chronic back pain. These exercises can be performed at home and with minimal equipment. The whole routine can be completed in about 15 minutes and these exercises can be performed daily. This collection is also aimed at beginners, those who are less athletically inclined, and people dealing with chronic pain issues of the spine.

Warning: Consult your physician and physical therapist before performing any of these exercises. People with certain low back conditions might not be able to perform these exercises in a safe or comfortable manner. These exercises can provoke pain and soreness particularly if you are not used to them or already have chronic low back pain.

1.Cat stretches

The cat stretch can help lengthen the back, make it stronger, and ease tension in the muscles.

To perform the cat stretch:

  • Get onto the hands and knees with the knees hip-width apart.
  • Arch the back, pulling the bellybutton up toward the spine.
  • Slowly relax the muscles and allow the abdomen to sag toward the floor.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 3–5 times twice a day.

2.Bridges

The gluteus maximus is the largest and one of the most important muscles in the body and keeping it strong can help support the lower back.

Bridges work a person’s gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle of the buttocks. People engage this muscle when they move their hips, especially when they bend into a squat.

To perform a bridge:

  • Lie on the ground and bend the knees, placing the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.
  • Press the feet into the floor, keeping the arms by the sides.
  • Raise the buttocks off the ground until the body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
  • Squeeze the buttocks with the shoulders remaining on the floor.
  • Lower the buttocks to the ground and rest for a few seconds.
  • Repeat 15 times and then rest for 1 minute.
  • Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

3.Lower back rotational stretches

The lower back rotational stretch can help relieve tension in the lower back and trunk. It also gently works the core muscles to improve stability.

To perform the lower back rotational stretch:

  • Lie back on the floor with bent knees and feet flat on the ground.
  • Keeping the shoulders firmly on the floor, gently roll both bent knees over to one side.
  • Hold the position for 5–10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Gently roll the bent knees over to the opposite side, hold, and then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 2–3 times on each side twice a day.

4.Knee to Chest Stretches

Doing a knee-to-chest stretch can help elongate the lower back, relieving tension and pain.

To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:

  • Lie on the back on the floor.
  • Bend the knees, keeping both feet flat on the floor.
  • Use both hands to pull one knee in toward the chest.
  • Hold the knee against the chest for 5 seconds, keeping the abdominals tight and pressing the spine into the floor.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Repeat with each leg 2–3 times twice a day.

5.Lying lateral leg lifts

Lying lateral leg lifts work the hip abductor muscles. These muscles support the pelvis and can help reduce strain on the back.

Keeping these muscles strong is essential, as they help a person maintain their balance and can affect mobility.

To perform lying lateral leg lifts:

  • Lie on one side with the legs together.
  • Keep the lower leg slightly bent.
  • Draw the bellybutton into the spine to engage the core muscles.
  • Raise the top leg about 18 inches, keeping it straight and extended.
  • Hold the position for 2 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Turn onto the other side of the body and repeat, lifting the other leg.
  • Perform 3 sets on each side.

6.Supermans

A person needs strong back extensors to maintain good posture. These muscles run along either side of the spine.

Weak back extensors can reduce spinal and pelvic support, but doing an exercise called a “Superman” can help.

To perform a Superman:

  • Lie face down on the ground and stretch both arms out in front of the body, keeping the legs stretched out and flat on the ground.
  • Raise both the hands and feet, aiming to create a gap of about 6 inches between them and the floor.
  • Try to pull in the bellybutton, lifting it off the floor to engage the core muscles.
  • Keep the head straight and look at the floor to avoid neck injury.
  • Stretch the hands and feet outward as far as possible.
  • Hold the position for 2 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

7.Seated lower back rotational stretches

The seated lower back rotational stretch helps relieve pain, working the core muscles and strengthening the lower back.

To perform the seated lower back rotational stretch:

  • Sit on a stool or chair without arms, keeping the feet flat on the floor.
  • Twist at the core to the right, keeping the hips square and the spine tall.
  • Position the hands behind the head or place the left hand on the right knee to support the stretch.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise on the left-hand side.
  • Repeat on each side 3–5 times twice a day.

8.Partial curls

Strong abdominal muscles play a significant role in supporting the spine and can also help keep the hips properly aligned.

Weak abdominals can result in poor core strength and lack of stability, which can cause lower back pain. Curls and partial curls help build a strong core.

To perform partial curls:

  • Lie back on the floor and bend the knees, keeping the feet flat and hip-width apart.
  • Cross the hands over the chest.
  • Breathe in deeply.
  • On the breath out, engage the abdominal muscles by pulling in the stomach.
  • Gently raise the head and shoulders 2 inches off the ground while keeping the neck in line with the spine.
  • Hold for 5 seconds then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times.
  • Perform 3 sets.

9.Draw-in maneuvers

The draw-in maneuver works the transversus abdominis. This muscle is on the front and side of the abdomen, stabilizing the spine and lower back region.

To perform the draw-in maneuver:

  • Lie back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, keeping the arms by the sides.
  • Breathe in deeply.
  • While breathing out, pull the bellybutton toward the spine, tightening the abdominal muscles and keeping the hips still.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.

10.Pelvic tilts

The pelvic tilt exercise can release tight back muscles and keep them flexible.

To perform this lower back flexibility exercise:

  • Lie back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, keeping the arms by the sides.
  • Gently arch the lower back and push the stomach out.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Flatten the back and pull the bellybutton in toward the floor.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Increase the number of repetitions daily, building up to 30.

The draw in maneuver and pelvic tilt exercise are similar looking but the abdominal movement is in the opposite direction. In the draw in maneuver you contract your abs towards the floor and in the other you push out with your abdominal muscles.

Below is a link to a similar article from the Mayo Clinic as well as a link to a YouTube video that demonstrates some of these exercises being performed.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265

For more information on exercising, dieting and fitness visit:
https://fitnessfornonathletes.com/category/wellness/body/