Don’t let lower back pain stop you in your tracks.
Lower back pain plagues us all. That uncomfortable feeling of rolling out of bed and suffering through the stiffness and pain throughout the day. A weak back can lead to problems in the gym and impede on that progress you work so hard for. On top of that, further health issues may pop up down the line that you certainly don’t have the time or patience to deal with. If you’ve neglected to strengthen your lower back and handle that nagging pain, it’s time to start now.
The back is without a doubt one of the most important parts of your body. It is highly important to the overall functioning of your body as it dictates how all of your limbs function. Having a strong, stable back not only improves mobility and movement in the gym, but it lifts your posture allowing you to walk more upright and exude more confidence. More confidence in the gym, in your everyday life, and in yourself.
While it is imperative to train your whole back in order to help support the spine, strengthening the lower back is going to offer an extra level of spinal support while also keeping your hip flexors and core in great shape. Aside from the benefit in the gym that working the lower back will provide, the everyday tasks we take for granted such as lifting, standing, sitting, and squatting will all improve.
Working out those back muscles is incredibly important for the prospects of big gains and that toned aesthetic, but strengthening your back is about lifting, but also maintenance. Lifting heavy weights may pack on the muscle, but without proper maintenance your back will suffer, causing pain and discomfort and keeping you out of the gym. Lower back pain is hard to exactly pinpoint and can be caused by a host of things from improper form, strenuous activity, or muscle strain. These lower back exercises are great for strengthening and maintaining a good, solid lower back to keep you feeling great, looking great, and thriving in and out of the gym.
Many associate the squat with simply the legs. But the lower back is the most targeted area during a squat and without proper strength and correct form, your lower back can suffer greatly. Starting light with squats and gradually building to heavier weights is a great way to strengthen and maintain the lower back in order to see those gains.
How to: Start with a wide stance and have your feet shoulder width apart. Squeezing your core to maintain a flat back, sit back as if a chair is under you. Your feet should be flat on the ground with your knees behind your toes. Be sure to keep your chest up and head facing front.
Bridges are often seen as a warm-up exercise, but the benefits of a bridge far outweigh the common misconception surrounding them. Too often we sit hunched at our desks and bridges can help strengthen not just the lower back, but the entire back. For those looking to lift heavy and be more explosive, bridges can aid in these movements and support your workout endurance. They provide for a great stretch as well.
How to: Lie flat on your back with your knees up. Pushing your hips off the ground, keep your arms and head relaxed down while lifting your chest. Gently lower your hips to release to the initial position.
While primarily a stretch, the knee-to-chest workout will increase your range of motion allowing that stiffness to be released. Whether done as a double- or single-legged exercise, this is a great warm-up or mid workout stretch.
How to: For the single-leg, lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent up. Raise one knee and interlace your fingers underneath. Pull the bent knee towards your body, pause for a moment, then return to the floor. The same premise follows with the double-leg except lift both knees off the ground and gently pull towards your body.
Lying Lateral Leg Lifts
Lying lateral leg lifts will help work the hip abductor muscles used to support the pelvis and reduce unwanted strain on the lower back. This will help with balance as well as mobility.
How to: Lie on one side of your body with your legs together. Keeping the lower leg slightly bent, raise the top leg while keeping it straight. It is important to engage the core muscles. Hold at the top and gently lower back down. Turning onto your other side, you can repeat these steps for the other leg.
With Supermans, the lower back and glutes are primarily involved giving those lower back muscles the opportunity to work. Although a simple exercise, it allows you to build fundamental skills for more advanced workouts.
How to: Lie face down on the ground and stretch both arms out front. At the same time, raise both your hands and feet off the ground about six inches. Engage your core while keeping your head straight down at the floor. Hold for a brief pause and lower back to the ground.
A good side plank can help strengthen the muscles of your lower back. While also working your core, the side plank improves stability and offers the benefit of a solid lower back.
How to: This can be done on either your elbow or with your hand on the floor and arm stretched out. Choose a side and lie on the ground. Tightening your core, raise your hips so your body forms a line from your feet to your shoulder. You can place your free hand either on your hip or extended in the air. Hold for as long as you’d like and gently lower to the ground. The same steps apply for the other side.
While lower back pain can be debilitating in all facets of life, don’t let it take you down. Maintaining a strong lower back is critical for your growth in and out of the gym and with the right training, you will lift more and be able to sustain more strain without the risk of injury. Give these lower back exercises a try and you will see significant progress with how you feel.
*Images courtesy of Envato