3 Exercises to Improve Low Back Strength
It has been said that up to 80% of the U.S. population will suffer from some type of low back problems throughout their lifetime. And there are many causes — including instability, strains, injuries, and accidents. Among adults, low back pain is often caused by overuse and muscle strain or injury. Proper treatment can help you stay as active as possible and enable you to understand that some continued or repeated back pain is not surprising or dangerous.1
Specific exercises have also been shown to reduce low back pain and speed up recovery from a strain or injury.2 I have outlined below, an effective program for the low back that includes a series of strengthening exercises.
The purpose of this exercise program is to improve the flexibility and strength of your trunk musculature, which is essential for the care of your low back. A strong trunk is the source of many movements and synchronizes the upper with the lower body. Therefore, all sides of the trunk must be trained — the abdominal muscles for flexion, the lower back muscles for extension, obliques for rotation, and all of them together for stabilization and proper posture.3
By following this program on a regular basis, you will see improvements in your posture, work endurance, and athletic performance. Perform each exercise at a slow pace at least once a day, everyday.
Lie on your back on a flat surface. Your feet are flat on the surface and your knees are bent. Keep your legs together and cross your arms over your chest. Tilt your pelvis and push your low back to the floor, then slowly lift your buttocks off the floor as far as possible without straining. Maintain this position for 5 seconds. Lower your buttocks to the floor.
Start on the floor, on your hands and knees. Tighten your stomach muscles. Raise one leg off the floor and hold it straight out behind you. Be careful not to let your hip drop down, because that will twist your trunk. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your leg and switch to the other leg. Work up to holding the position for 10 to 30 seconds each time. If you feel stable and secure with your leg raised, try raising the opposite arm straight out in front of you at the same time. Try to keep your body straight at all times, and don’t let one hip drop lower than the other.
This exercise should be performed on a cable machine or with resistance tubing. Stand with good posture and feet slighter wider than shoulder width distance apart. Grip handle firmly with both hands, extend your arms in front of you and bend your knees slightly. Begin movement by rotating your trunk, and immediately pull the cable or tubing away from the machine. Pivot your back foot as you rotate your torso. Return to start position. Make sure you pivot your rear foot to allow for a full hip and torso rotation.
- Carragee EJ. New England Journal of Medicine, 2005; 352(18): 1891-1898.
- Koes B and Van Tulder M. Low back pain (acute), search date November 2004. Online version of Clinical Evidence (15).
- Roetert EP. High-Performance Sports Conditioning, 2001, 119-137.