Lower back strength contributes significantly to overall health and fitness because the lower back muscles make up your core that stabilizes your body. Every body movement you make involves the core.
Read on here everything important to know why building back strength is necessary, how to do it safely, and the best exercises to strengthen the lower back.
Why Is Low Back Strength Important?
Who is not interested in being healthy & fit? Of course, to be healthy & fit, you need to strengthen your body’s muscles. But many people skip their lower back muscles, though. Instead, they often focus more on building the muscles of the chest, arms, legs, glutes, and abs.
Besides simply having overall good fitness, there are many other reasons to target your lower back when building strength:
Prevent & Reduce Lower Back Pain
Low back pain is a common issue among most people. Often, there is no single detectable cause.
Research Studies have shown that exercise is an excellent antidote to this type of pain. This is because exercise enhances blood flow to the area, decreasing stiffness that otherwise can cause pain.
A mix of strength training, cardio with stretching decreases disability in people having lower back pain. In addition, a stronger lower back helps prevent and provide relief from low back pain by supporting the spine and improving posture. It also takes the pressure off other body parts that otherwise can occur when the back is weak.
Poor posture is a major cause of discomfort & pain for many people, particularly those who sit for long hours at a desk all day.
A Strong Core Increases Stability
Let’s understand the importance of core strength. Your core plays an essential role in all your physical movements and stabilizes your body. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that the core is more than just abdominal muscle. It’s also our lower back. By strengthening your entire core, you will have more stable movements and eventually less pain.
This is true for day-to-day activities as well as exercise. For example, you require a robust and stable core to do big compound movements, such as squats. The stronger your core, the safer and more effective your workouts will be.
Protect the Rest of Your Body
A strong lower back is essential for more than just the lower back itself. A weak or injured lower back can result in pain elsewhere as well, including in the hips and legs. In addition, the nerves of your lower back affect even the more distant areas of your body. Weak muscles here can meddle with them, leading to pain.
How To Strengthen Lower Back Muscles? The Best Exercises!
Try these exercises to help strengthen the all-important lower back muscles to support good posture and provide pain relief.
This is a good beginner exercise that really engages the lower back and requires no equipment.
Lie on your stomach on a mat. Stretch your arms out in front of you and legs behind, like Superman in flight. Lift your arms and legs off the floor. You should feel your back muscles activated & stretched. Hold this position for a few seconds and release.
Until you gain more strength, you may not be able to raise your limbs very far. You’ll achieve more range of motion as you develop flexibility and strength.
This is another good exercise for an overall strong core. Get on to all fours – hands and knees. Stretch the right leg back and the left arm forward. Balance your body in this position, keeping your back straight and strong.
If you have a weak lower back, it will tend to sag during this movement. It would help if you try to keep it up and straight to really work for those low back muscle groups. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Partial Crunches (Note: Partial & not full)
The core muscles work together, so perform this exercise to strengthen both the lower and abs. If you have existing back pain or tension, ensure you only attempt this partial movement and nowhere near a full sit-up. Instead, focus on tightening the abs and pressing the lower back into the floor.
Straight Leg Deadlifts
Also called the Romanian deadlift, this move really recruits your lower back if you do it properly. Correct form is critical to making this move safely and effectively. Learn & practice its proper form before adding weight.
While doing a deadlift to strengthen your lower back, really focus on those muscles as you lift. Then, maintain your back straight as you lower down and rise back up to the standing position. The spine should never curve during this movement.
Don’t try this move until you have gained some muscle strength in your lower back. It is a challenging move that really recruits these muscles and the abdominals as well. Begin with a small movement, lying on your back, keeping your arms at your sides and legs straight. Then, while keeping your legs straight, lift them off the floor just a couple of inches. Hold and release. Increase the raise as your low back muscles get stronger.
Don’t Forget to Stretch
Especially for people with lower back tension and pain, stretching is as important as strengthening, probably somewhat more than that. So practice a gentle stretch routine, especially after your workout session. You can also do it a few times a day to relieve pain:
- Knee-to-chest: Lying on your back on a mat, pull your right knee toward your chest. Hold the leg tight against your chest to get a nice stretch in the lower back. Repeat with the left leg. You can do it 10-15 times with each leg.
Note: You may make this move with both legs together.
- Again, lying down on your back on a mat, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out to the respective sides, perpendicular to your body. While keeping the knees together and upper back and shoulders as flat and anchored to the floor as possible, slowly twist your lower back to the left side and hold it there for some time. Now come to the neutral position, twist similarly to the other side, and hold the position for an equal amount of time. You can do it 10-15 times on each side.
- Pelvic tilts. While lying on your back on a mat, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. To tilt your pelvis, arch the lower back and hold it up off the floor, then release it. Though this is a small movement but is effective in relaxing lower back muscles.
Strengthen Your Back Safely
Strengthening your lower back safely can make you healthier and fitter while decreasing pain. On the other hand, working out incorrectly can lead to injury or even worsen the pain. So keep safety in mind before getting into a low back strengthening routine.
Can You Hurt Your Back Working Out?
When done correctly, exercise is generally good for your back and should provide relief from pain. But it’s also possible that you may hurt it while exercising. Don’t allow the risk of injury or pain to stop you from exercising but do focus on safe practices.
The primary reasons that increase the risks of hurting your back during exercise include poor form and overdoing it. Incorrect form can stress or even injure muscles. Another common issue is that using too much weight too soon can do the same. Another potential cause is not warming up before starting – that is, going into an exercise with cold muscles can lead to an injury.
How Can I Strengthen My Lower Back Muscles Without More Pain?
Avoid the reasons mentioned above. Most people can do lower back strengthening exercises without pain or injury. Always start slowly, with no weights, and focus on the correct form. Add in weights as your low back gains stronger. Make sure to start with a dynamic warm-up.
Note: If you have existing back pain or an injury, you must talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine. Likewise, if any exercise causes or worsens back pain, stop it immediately and consult your doctor.
Do these exercises safely and use their correct form for the best results. A strong lower back is essential for functional movement in your everyday life and for stability & safety in workouts as well.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”