6 Ways to Protect and Strengthen Your Lower Back

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

The lower back is the foundation of our body. This area of the human body works incredibly hard, and we depend on it to function optimally and allow us to perform various tasks. It must support our weight while we sit, stand, and walk around every day. It absorbs a lot of pressure as we lean forward and backward, twist from side to side, and bend to perform many daily tasks. Therefore, you need to protect and strengthen your lower back.

Like any other muscle group in the human body, we must focus on strengthening the muscles of the lower back to ensure they are able to manage the daily stress we put them through.

In this article, we will look at six ways that you can protect and strengthen your lower back.

6 Exercises to Protect and Strengthen Your Lower Back

According to studies, exercise increases blood flow to your lower back region, which may reduce stiffness and improve the healing process.

There are many exercises for the lower back that you can do — even in the privacy of your own home (no gym membership needed).

Below are the six exercises you should be focusing on:

1.      Bridges

Bridges are an excellent exercise for the lower back. They strengthen your core, which is important for keeping your spine aligned and balanced.

Bridges are also a good way to start working on your glutes if you have tight hip flexors. If you have trouble doing bridges, try starting on an exercise ball or a soft surface like carpet or grass.

How to perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your hips off the floor while keeping your knees unlocked and feet together.
  • Keep your shoulders pressed into the ground as you hold this position for as long as you can.

2.      Drawing-In Maneuver

The drawing-in maneuver is a type of isometric exercise that can be done in bed. It works to strengthen the muscles that support your lower back and can help relieve sciatica pain.

How to perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Slowly draw one knee toward your chest as far as you can without experiencing discomfort or pain.
  • Hold for at least 10 seconds, and do not let your hips shift or “rise off the floor” during this time.
  • Then slowly return your leg to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
  • Repeat five times with each leg, holding each stretch for at least 10 seconds each time.

3.      Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of the best exercises for the lower back. They’re also one of the most effective ways to build muscle, which can help improve your posture, reduce back pain, and increase bone density.

How to perform this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend at the knees and grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip (or use dumbbells).
  • Keeping your spine neutral, pull the bar up to your thighs by extending your hips and knees.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top while keeping your arms straight.
  • Slowly lower the weight back down to complete one rep.

4.      Superman

Superman is a terrific exercise to strengthen your lower back, especially the erector spinal muscles. The best part about this exercise is that it can be done anywhere without any equipment.

How to perform this exercise:

  • Get into the starting position by lying on your stomach with arms extended forward (as if you are flying through the air like Superman).
  • Take a deep breath in and push yourself up using only your arms and upper back muscles.
  • Exhale and slowly return to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.

5.      Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilts are a great starting point to help strengthen your lower back. The exercise helps improve your spine’s mobility and muscle balance between the front and back of your body.

How to perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor.
  • Relax and breathe normally while slowly tightening your abdominal muscles to tilt your pelvis forward until it’s level with the floor.
  • Then slowly roll back to the starting position without tipping over or arching your back too high off the floor.
  • You can do pelvic tilts throughout the day when standing or sitting for added support for your spine when bending over or lifting objects from the ground.

6.      Bird-Dog

The bird-dog is a great exercise to strengthen your lower back. It takes a little coordination and getting used to, but after getting the hang of it, you may notice you are able to strengthen your lower back through the use of this exercise.

How to perform this exercise:

  • Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, and your knees should be directly under your hips.
  • Slowly lift one leg out behind you, keeping it straight. Reach down, touch the floor with the opposite hand, and return to the starting position. Repeat with each leg 10 times.
  • You can also hold a medicine ball or dumbbell between your feet while performing this exercise for added resistance.

 

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