6 Ways to Strengthen Your Lower Back & Reduce Pain

Roughly 65 million people in the United States suffer from back pain—nearly 20% of everyone in the nation. While back problems can come from degenerative or genetic issues, some experts cite the 21st-century’s sedentary lifestyle as a factor in our chronic back aches and pains. Muscle tension, either from overuse or no use at all, can lead to a weak lower back—transferring tension and load to other parts of the body.

Keeping the back flexible and strong will not only lead to less pain, but will strengthen the stability of your body and improve your posture. These exercises and stretches are also about balance. Strengthening your whole body will establish a more balanced transfer of weight throughout your musculoskeletal system. That’s why some of these exercises also work your legs, gluteal muscles and front abdominals.

3 Stretches to Make Your Lower Back More Flexible

#1: Knee to Chest

Stretches lower back and gluteal muscles

  1. Lie flat on your back
  2. Bend one leg at the knee, so calf is parallel to torso
  3. Grab thigh or knee
  4. Pull knee gently as far towards chest as possible
  5. Hold for 45 seconds
  6. Repeat on each side

#2: Lower Back Twist

Stretches paraspinal muscles (muscles immediately surrounding spine)

  1. Lie flat on your back
  2. Bend one leg and cross it over to the opposite side of body
  3. Twist hips and lower back while keeping shoulders as flat as possible
  4. Twist until you feel stretch in lower back, then hold for 45 seconds
  5. Repeat on each side

#3: Side Trunk Stretch

Stretches side of trunk and latissimus dorsi (side torso muscles)

  1. Kneel on the ground, with the top of your feet flat on the floor
  2. Reach forward on the ground
  3. Extend your arms and body as much as possible
  4. Keep legs and knees flat on ground while reaching
  5. While extended, crawl hands and torso to the side while keeping waist straight
  6. Hold extension for 45 seconds
  7. Repeat on each side

3 Exercises to Strengthen Your Trunk

#1: Half Crunches

  1. Get into sit-up position (hands behind head, flat on back, feet flat on floor)
  2. Contract stomach until shoulders are off the floor
  3. Do not use arms, elbows, or momentum to lift shoulders
  4. Hold for 2 seconds
  5. Do 3 sets of 10, 15, or 25 repetitions, depending on fitness level
  6. These can be difficult, but do not overwork your abdominals

#2: Push up back extensions

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs together
  2. Put hands at about shoulder level, flat on ground
  3. Push up, so hips and legs stay on ground but upper torso rises
  4. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8-10 times

#3: Assisted Back Extension

  1. Lie on stomach
  2. Keep arms at sides
  3. Keep legs together
  4. Press hips and knees into ground to lift chest
  5. Assist with hands at first, then lift them off ground for full exercise
  6. Hold chest in air for a few seconds
  7. If you experience back pain, stop!
  8. Repeat 5-8 times

Categories: Back Pain, Blog