You’re not alone if you used to believe only older adults were affected by back pain and weakness. But then something happens that makes you rethink that mindset.
Maybe you went too hard at the gym, overloaded your backpack, were in a fender bender, or had a little too much fun with your weekend activities.
Whatever the case, you may have recently realized that lower back pain can impact people of every age.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways to strengthen your lower back and reduce pain. Here are seven of the most highly recommended hacks.
1. Partial Crunches
If you’re experiencing lower back pain or stiffness, performing full-on crunches can be challenging — if not impossible. It may even worsen certain conditions depending on the problem.
But strengthening the core muscles (also called the abdomen) is one of the best ways to improve and prevent issues in the lower back.
So, how can you build strength in your core without risking further injuries?
Try partial crunches.
Here’s how you do them:
- Lie flat on your back with knees bent
- Cross your arms over your chest or rest them behind your head
- Tighten your stomach muscles
- Take a deep breath out as you lift your shoulders just off the floor
- Hold for one or two seconds
- Slowly and gently return your back to the floor
- Repeat about 15 times (stop if you experience more pain)
For safety, you’ll want to keep your feet and lower back on the floor the whole time. Be mindful of using your abdomen to pull you up, not leading with your elbows or straining your neck.
2. Press Up Back Extensions
Yoga enthusiasts might recognize press-up back extensions because they resemble the popular cobra pose.
This exercise builds strength and flexibility in the lower back area, helping to relieve pain and prevent future problems.
They’re easy to do:
- Lie on the floor, stomach down
- Place your palms flat on the floor, directly under your shoulder blades
- Slowly and gently push yourself up, keeping your hips and legs on the floor and exhaling as you rise
- Stop and hold this position, being careful not to overextend your spine
- After five seconds, slowly lower your chest back down for a short rest
- Repeat about 15 times, stopping if your pain gets worse
3. Hamstring Stretch
It may surprise you to know that some muscles in the back of your legs provide support for your back muscles and spine. One of these muscles is your hamstring.
By stretching out your hamstrings and relieving tightness, you can ease some cases of lower back pain. Avoid standing up and bending over to reach for your toes because you might make your condition worse.
Try this instead:
- Grab a towel or elastic fitness band
- Lie on your back, keeping one knee bent and that foot on the floor
- Thread the towel or fitness band around the ball of your other foot, holding the ends in each hand
- Slowly straighten out your leg and hold for a few seconds once you begin to feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg
- Repeat five to ten times
If this stretch makes your pain worse, stop immediately and ask a chiropractor or physical therapist about the source of your pain.
4. Knee to Chest
An easy way to regain strength and flexibility while experiencing lower back pain is to move your legs safely, even when it isn’t comfortable working out.
Knee to chest exercise is a low-impact activity you can do several times every day or just as needed.
These are the simple steps:
- Lay on your back
- Bend both knees, placing your feet flat on the floor
- Draw one knee up to your chest, leaving the other foot on the floor and making sure your lower back stays flat
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds
- Slowly lower your foot back to the floor
- Switch legs, alternating for about 20 repetitions (or fewer if necessary)
In addition to helping support your lower back, bridges have other benefits like strengthening the buttocks, legs, and abs.
Doing them the right way is important. Remember not to arch your back too much during this exercise. Tightening your abdomen will help prevent overarching, which may worsen back pain.
Now that you know what to avoid, here’s what you do:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent
- Position your feet so that only your heels touch the floor and angle your toes upward
- Tighten your abs and buttocks
- Lay your arms flat along your sides (palms flat)
- Slowly lift your hips, being careful to keep your back straight
- Hold for up to ten seconds depending on what is comfortable
- Gently lower yourself back to a resting position
- Repeat ten times
6. Rotational Back Stretch
This simple stretch can help improve flexibility and strength in the lower back, possibly leading to less pain over time.
Follow these steps, adjusting the extent of your stretch according to what feels comfortable to you:
- Lie on your back
- Bend your knees and draw them up toward your chest
- Place your arms outstretched to each side on the floor with palms down
- Slowly and gently lower your knees to one side, stopping before the stretch causes discomfort
- Hold for five seconds
- Repeat ten times, alternating sides
7. Resistance Training
Regular resistance training is a versatile way to strengthen the entire body by building lean muscles in your arms, legs, and torso. When these muscles are strong and healthy, you’re less vulnerable to painful lower back injuries.
If you have an existing problem, it’s crucial to check with a doctor or physical therapist to learn which exercises are safe for you.
Ways to practice resistance training include:
- Free Weights
- Exercise Devices and Machines
- Pull-Up Bars
- Elastic Fitness Bands
- Your Own Body Weight (Like Push-Ups)
How can I make my lower back stronger?
If you’re looking to strengthen your lower back, there are a variety of exercises and techniques you can use to achieve this goal. The lower back is an important area of the body that is often neglected, but building strength in this area can help prevent injury, improve posture, and increase overall physical fitness.
One of the best ways to strengthen your lower back is through targeted exercises such as the plank, superman, and bridge pose. These exercises can help to engage the muscles in the lower back and build strength over time. Additionally, incorporating exercises that target the glutes, hips, and core can also help to improve lower back strength.
In addition to exercises, stretching and proper form are also key components of building a stronger lower back. Stretching can help to increase flexibility and prevent injury, while maintaining proper form during exercises can ensure that you are engaging the right muscles and avoiding strain on the lower back.
Lower back problems can be painful and inconvenient, but there’s plenty you can do to build strength and ease discomfort. Refer back to these tips whenever you need to.
That said, always consult a physician if your lower back pain is severe or persistent.
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