Lower back exercises help strengthen your spine's defenses against gravity and back pain. Pain and injury are associated with weak muscles. Your back, abdominal and buttock muscles comprise the core muscles of your body. When you strengthen your lower back, abdomen and buttocks, you build core strength, reduce lower back pain and improve posture.
Lower Back Exercises Strengthen Your Spine
If you work at a computer day in and day out, you likely hunch your shoulders slightly, hug your arms to your body and curl your spine enough that you shorten the muscles in your back. Short muscles affect your spine's alignment, reduce mobility in your joints and increase the stress on your back when you sit for hours, drive for hours or work in brief, shortened motions.
A regular exercise program should include lower back exercises in order to strengthen your core muscles. Note, when you include exercises to strengthen the lower back, you should also include exercises to strengthen the muscles in opposition to the lower back; in this case, your abdominal muscles. For each back exercise include an abdominal exercise. Over strengthening your abdominals without strengthening your back (or vice versa) can increase your risk of injury.
Simple stretches can help loosen your back muscles, warm them up and prepare them for exercise. Even if you don't exercise strenuously, warming your back up before your day can reduce stress on the muscles and prevent cramps, tightening and pain.
- Knee to Chest
Lying on your back, flatten your feet on the floor. Put your hand behind your left knee and pull it towards your left shoulder. Hold for five. Release. Repeat with your right knee to right shoulder. Perform five to six times.
- Hug your Knees
Lying on your back, feet flat on the floor, pull both knees to your chest and hug them. Roll gently from hip to hip for a count of five and then release. Repeat five to six times.
- Do the Twist
Lying flat on the floor, stretch your arms out to the sides. Bring your knees up to your chest. Gently lower your knees to the floor to the right. Do not push them past the point of tightening. Hold for a count of five and return them to the middle for a five count. Then lower the knees toward the left and hold for a count of five. Perform the twist five times for each side.
- Office Chair Rest
Sitting on the chair, put your right ankle on your left knee and lean forward. Hold for a count of twenty and then sit back. Swap ankles and repeat. Do five times for each leg.
Remember when performing stretches that you should never engage in short, jerky motions. It should be smooth and gentle. You should never push beyond the pain or too tight point. Stretching should let the muscles reach a little further, warm them up but not injure them.
Add back exercises to your regular regimen. Use abdominal exercises to create equal and opposing strength in order to build a strong core.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and flatten your feet against the floor. You may want to brace your feet against a wall or a sofa. Lift your buttocks up. Keep your shoulders flat against the ground, but do not push up with your shoulders. Use your buttocks, back and abdomen to hold your body firm. There should be a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for a count of five and then slowly return to resting position. Repeat six to ten times. You may also perform this exercise by lying on a balance ball and stretching your arms back so that your hands and feet rest flat against the floor. But you should build up to this level of exercise slowly.
The plank may be performed with an exercise ball or with a stationary object such as a sofa or chair. Lying flat on your back, put your feet up on the balance ball or sofa. Gently pushing upwards with your buttocks, stretch your legs and create a perfect diagonal from your toes to shoulders. Hold for a count of ten and then release. You can actually build this up to sixty seconds of holding. Do not use your neck or shoulders to maintain this position, but your back, buttocks and abdomen. Repeat five times.
- Wall Squats
Place your balance ball between your back and a wall. Stand so that you are holding the ball firmly with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly, bend your legs and move to sit down, as though into a chair and allow the ball to move down the legs. You're looking to bend your knees at least 45 degrees with an optimal 90 degrees. Hold for a count of five and then rise back to standing. Repeat five to six times. Keep the motion slow and deliberate; use the balance ball to maintain your balance. The point is to use your back and buttocks to maintain your balance and strengthen the muscles there.
Prior to beginning any exercise program, be sure to consult your physician with any questions or concerns. If you have suffered a back injury or other debilitating injury or condition, check with your physician on the type and intensity of exercises your physician recommends before beginning an exercise regimen.