Lower back exercises are usually performed to improve the strength and condition of the low back muscles. Low back exercises can improve spinal health, helping to overcome low back pain and reduce the likelihood of re injury.
This video shows you four progressive low back exercises to help you strengthen your lower back and improve your core (trunk) control. These exercises are pelvic floor safe exercises, so that women can usually perform them without risk to their pelvic floor health. The exercises demonstrated are commonly employed in low back rehabilitation and some gym strength exercise programs.
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Video duration: 8 minutes
Who is Suited to doing ‘Lower Back Exercises’?
Many women will be able to comfortably perform the lower back exercises demonstrated in this video. Some women with low back pain and dysfunction will need to modify their low back exercises and should be guided by their treating health professional as to those exercises to choose and avoid. The lower back exercises demonstrated in this video should be ceased immediately if any associated pain or physical discomfort is experienced – these exercises should be pain free.
How Can Lower Back Exercises Help?
Low back exercises such as those demonstrated in this video can help:
- Improve or maintain spinal strength
- Improve or maintain core (trunk) muscle control
- Reduce the likelihood of low back injury
- Assist in the rehabilitation of some low back injuries
- Assist in postural control and bone health exercise programs
Lower Back Exercises Outlined Step-By-Step
This outline is designed to help you with safe effective low back exercises. These exercises should be repeated slowly with a focus upon maintaining your control and body stability. Start with the number of repetitions you can comfortably manage and control and increase as your strength improves. You may choose to take a short break between repetitions and this will not lessen the effectiveness of your exercises.
Exercise 1: Four Point Kneeling Leg Raise
This exercise is a great way to start out and become accustomed to the correct position and technique. This exercise is also useful for women with shoulder problems who experience shoulder pain when raising their arms and usually allows them to exercise without aggravating an existing shoulder condition.
- Commence this exercise kneeling on all fours; place your hands directly below your shoulders, and your knees under hips.
- Keep your elbows soft rather than rigid
- Maintain your neutral spine position throughout i.e. Keep your normal inward lower back curve,; avoid the tendency to increase the inward curve of your low backKeep your eyes gazing down in front of your hands; avoid the tendency to arch your head and neck backwards
- If your knees are sore, use a cushion beneath your knees. Alternatively this exercise can be modified to be performed lying in prone or using Exercise 4. position and technique over an exercise ball.
- Extend one leg behind your body and keep your foot pointing down to the ground
- Gently activate your lower abdominal muscles by slightly drawing in your lower abdominal wall
- Slowly raise and lower your extended leg no higher than your buttocks
- Avoid twisting your spine and seek to maintaining a constant inward low back curve throughout
- Repeat this exercise maintaining your good form throughout
Exercise 2: Progression Exercise With Alternate Arm Leg Raise
- As for Exercise 1.
- Additionally extend the arm opposite to your extended leg to reach out in front of your body
- As for Exercise 1.and raise and lower your outstretched arm in front of your body simultaneously as you lift and lower your extended leg behind your body
- Ensure that your eyes stay gazing down to avoid extending your neck and
Exercise 3: Progression Using Wobble Cushion
Progression using dura disc or wobble cushion to increase challenge and core control requirement by making your body a little unbalanced.
- As for Exercise 2
- Place the wobble cushion under your supporting knee
- As for Exercise 2
- Aim to maintain your pelvic and hip control; try to keep your body stable throughout.
Exercise 4: Exercise Ball Alternate Arm Leg Raise
- Progression using an exercise ball to increase challenge and core control requirement by making your body unstable.
- As for Exercise 2. – rather than kneeling, this time position your body lying prone over an exercise ball.
- As for Exercise 2 slowly raising and lowering alternate arm and leg simultaneously as you focus on maintaining stability and control of your trunk.
How Often to do Lower Back Exercises
These low back exercises can be performed regularly, every day or on alternate days. Start out with the number of repetitions you can comfortably perform and progress up to 10-12 repetitions each side of your body as comfort permits. Take a break and change position by stretching back and lowering your buttocks towards your heels whenever you need to.
These physical therapist lower back exercises are designed to assist you to safely strengthen your low back muscles, and improve your core and spinal control. In addition to promoting spinal health, the low back exercises in this video are pelvic floor safe too, so can usually be performed by women with pelvic floor dysfunction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.