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Lower back exercises target and strengthen the muscles in the lower back region.
The exercises help improve the stability, flexibility, and overall strength of the lower back. That can help alleviate pain, improve posture, and reduce the risk of injury.
The lower back muscles
The lower back, also known as the lumbar region, has the following main muscles.
- Erector Spinae
The Erector Spinae, comprising the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis muscles, runs along the spine. It helps extend and stabilize the back.
- Quadratus Lumborum
The Quadratus Lumborum muscles are on either side of the lower back.
They help with lateral flexion and stabilization of the spine.
These are deep muscles running along the length of the spine.
They provide stability and support and also help to maintain proper spinal alignment.
- Psoas Major
The psoas major is a hip flexor, but it also attaches to the lumbar vertebrae and plays a role in stabilizing the lower back.
- Gluteus Maximus
The gluteus maximus is the “largest” muscle in the body. It extends from the hip to the upper thigh.
It is responsible for hip extension and rotation and also assists in stabilizing the lower back.
It is worth mentioning that the lower back muscles will need work in conjunction with those of the core and hips to provide stability, support, and movement throughout the body.
Thus strengthening and maintaining a proper balance between the muscles is crucial for improved lower back health and function.
Benefits of Lower Back Exercises
Incorporating lower back exercises into your training regimen can benefit you in several ways.
- Strengthening the muscles
Lower back exercises help strengthen the muscles in the area
Strengthening these muscles can improve stability, posture, and overall strength. That can help reduce the risk of injury and promote better functional movement.
- Relieving Pain
Many individuals experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.
Lower back exercises, which can help strengthen the muscles in the area, can help alleviate pain and discomfort and provide better support and stability to the spine.
- Reducing the Risk of Injury
A strong lower back can help prevent injuries, particularly during physical activities that involve lifting, bending, or twisting.
Stronger lower back muscles can improve your ability to perform these movements safely and efficiently.
- Improved and Better Posture
Weak lower back muscles can lead to poor posture.
You can help improve your posture and maintain a more aligned and upright position with lower back exercises that target and build the muscles.
- Boosting Functional Fitness
A strong lower back is essential for various sports, including weightlifting, running, tennis, and rugby.
Incorporating lower back exercises into your fitness regimen can enhance your overall performance and reduce the risk of injuries related to these activities.
Best Lower Back Exercises for Enhancing Stability and Stability
Below are some of the best lower back exercises for boosting strength, stability, and posture.
The Superman exercise targets the erector spinae muscles, the muscles that work with the spine to extend and stabilize the back.
It also engages the glutes, hamstrings, and shoulder muscles.
The Superman is one of the best lower back exercises for improving spinal stability and enhancing posture.
It can also benefit individuals experiencing lower back pain or looking to prevent future injuries by building strength in the area.
Steps to follow
- Lie facedown on the floor or exercise mat with your arms extended overhead and your legs straight.
- Engage your core muscles and maintain a neutral spine position.
- Lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor simultaneously, aiming to create a slight arch in your back. Maintain proper neck alignment by keeping your gaze down.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and focus on squeezing your lower back and glutes.
- Slowly lower your arms, chest, and legs to your starting position.
- Repeat as many times as you can, gradually increasing the duration of the hold as you build strength and endurance.
Aside from the lower back, the Bird Dog targets core, hip, and shoulder muscles.
The exercise can help boost stability, balance, and coordination and are excellent lower back exercises that can help strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and promote better posture.
It also engages and strengthens the core muscles, leading to higher spinal stability.
Steps to follow
- Go down on all fours with hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Engage your core and keep your spine neutral.
- Simultaneously extend your right arm forward, ensuring it is in line with your shoulder, and left leg backward, keeping it in line with your hip.
- Keep your hips and shoulders parallel to the floor, and do not sag or twist your body.
- Hold this position briefly and focus on keeping your core engaged and your back stable.
- Lower your arm and leg slowly to your starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side by extending your left arm and right leg.
- Continue alternating sides for several repetitions.
Rack pulls are excellent lower back exercises that target the muscles in the lower back.
It is a variation of the deadlift exercise, where the starting position is set at a higher level using a power rack or blocks.
The rack pull is one of the best lower back exercises focusing on the isometric and concentric contractions involved in lifting the weight from the elevated position to help strengthen the muscles.
Aside from the lower back, rack pulls engage the glutes, hamstrings, and upper back muscles.
Steps to follow
- Set up the power rack or blocks at an appropriate height, but usually just below or at knee level.
- Stand with feet at hip-width, toes pointing forward, and the barbell in front of you.
- Bend your knees, and with an overhand grip, hinge at the hips to grasp the barbell.
- Maintain a neutral spine position, engage your core, and brace your abdominal muscles.
- Extend your hips, and with an explosive and controlled movement, pull the barbell up along your thighs and drive your body upwards.
- Focus on squeezing your glutes and engaging your lower back muscles as you reach the top position.
- Hold briefly, then lower the barbell to your starting position under control.
The Deadlift is considered one of the most effective lower back exercises that engage the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and other posterior chain muscles.
It is also one of the best compound exercises to help build strength, power, and functional movement.
Aside from strengthening the lower back muscles, Reverse Hyperextension targets the glutes and engages the hamstrings.
They are some of the best lower back exercises for improving the stability and endurance of the lower back muscles. They can also promote better spinal alignment and posture.
It can also benefit individuals recovering from lower back injuries or seeking to prevent future injuries by building strength in the area.
The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) primarily targets the posterior chain muscles but also engages the lower back, making it a beneficial exercise for lower body and lower back strength.
The exercise targets the hip hinge movement pattern, helping to strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
It also emphasizes hip extension and posterior chain activation, which can lead to improved lower back strength and stability.
The Back Extension exercise helps strengthen the lower back muscles and improve spinal stability.
It can benefit those looking to alleviate lower back pain and enhance posture. It is also one of the best lower body exercises for building strength in the area to help prevent future injuries.
You will need a back extension bench or stability ball for the exercise.
Steps to follow
- Lie face down on the back extension bench or stability ball, allowing your hips to rest on the padded platform and your feet securely anchored under the foot pads or held by a partner.
- Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your head.
- Engage your core and take a neutral spine position.
- Lift your upper body off the bench or stability ball while extending your back and raising your torso until it forms a straight line with your legs.
- Pause briefly and squeeze your lower back muscles.
- Slowly lower your upper body back to your starting position.
- Repeat for several repetitions.
Good Mornings involve hip hinging and spinal extension, which target the erector spinae muscles, making them excellent lower back exercises for strengthening and building the muscles in the lower back.
They also engage the hamstrings and glutes, helping to build lower body strength and stability.
The Pelvic Tilt exercise can help increase awareness of pelvic alignment and enhance lumbar spine stability and mobility.
The exercise engages the core muscles and promotes proper pelvic positioning, indirectly helping to improve lower back support and posture.
Thus while the Pelvic Tilt may not be a standalone exercise for strengthening the lower back, many rehabilitation centers use it as a mobility exercise or technique for enhancing body awareness and improving pelvic alignment.
Including the Pelvic Tilt in your lower body exercises can help improve lower back stability and posture.
Steps to follow
- Lie on your back, bend your knees bent, and plant your feet flat on the floor.
- Tilt your pelvis backward to engage your core and flatten your lower back against the floor.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and focus on engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Relax and allow your pelvis to return to a neutral position.
- Repeat the movement, but tilt your pelvis forward to create a slight arch in your lower back.
- Hold the position for a few seconds before returning to a neutral position.
Side Plank with Leg Lift
The Side Plank with Leg Lift targets the core muscles and those in the lower back and hips.
It is one of the best lower back exercises for challenging the stability of the core and activating the muscles along the side of your torso, including the obliques.
Lifting the leg adds an extra challenge and helps target the hip muscles, including the glutes and hip abductors.
The engagement of the lower back muscles during the Side Plank with Leg Lift is necessary for maintaining proper alignment and stability of the spine. Strengthening those muscles can improve lower back stability, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance overall core strength.
Steps to follow
- Go into the side plank pose. To do this,
- Lie on your side with your elbow directly under your shoulder, your forearm resting on the floor, and extend your legs.
- Engage your core, lift your hips off the floor, and create a straight line from head to heels.
- Lift your top leg, ensuring it stays straight.
- Hold the lifted leg for a few seconds and feel the engagement in your lower back, obliques, and hip muscles.
- Lower your leg to your starting position.
- Repeat for your desired number of repetitions, switch sides, and go through the motions.
The Cat-Camel Stretch is primarily a stretching rather than a strengthening exercise, but it can help improve lower back flexibility, relieve tension, and increase mobility.
The Cat-Camel Stretch can help increase the flexibility and mobility of the spine, particularly the segments in the lower back.
The exercise can benefit individuals experiencing stiffness, tightness, or discomfort in the lower back.
Steps to follow
- Go on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees at hip-width distance.
- Start by rounding your back, tucking your tailbone under, and dropping your head downward. That is the “cat” position.
- Hold the position for a few seconds while feeling the stretch in your lower back.
- Reverse the movement by arching your back, lifting your tailbone and chest towards the ceiling, and looking forward. That is the “camel” position.
- Hold the stretch for a few seconds while feeling the gentle extension in your lower back.
- Alternate between the cat and camel positions, moving slowly and smoothly.
- Repeat the movement for several repetitions.
- Gordon R, Bloxham S. A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain. Healthcare. 2016;4(2):22. doi:10.3390/healthcare4010022
- Lizier D, Perez M, Sakata R. Exercises for treatment of nonspecific low back pain. Brazil J Anesthes. 2012;62(6):838-846. doi:10.1016/S0034-7094(12)70183-6