Lower Back Strengthening Exercises
The following lower back strengthening exercises are designed to improve the strength of the muscles of the lower back. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should only be performed provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Begin with the basic lower back strengthening exercises. Once these are too easy, add the intermediate lower back exercises. As your strength improves, the advanced back exercises can then be added to the intermediate program.
Lower Back Strengthening – Basic Exercises
To begin with, the following basic lower back strengthening exercises should be performed approximately 3 times daily. As your lower back strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, frequency or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Transversus Abdominus Retraining
Slowly pull your belly button in "away from your belt line" and breathe normally. Your rib cage should remain relaxed and should not elevate during this process. You should be able to feel the muscle contracting if you press deeply 2cm in from the bony process at the front of your pelvis (figure 1). Practise holding this muscle at one third of a maximal contraction for as long as possible during everyday activity (e.g. when walking etc.) provided it is pain free. Repeat this back exercise 3 times daily.
Figure 1 – Transversus Abdominus Retraining
Opposite Arm Leg Raises
Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your arms above your head as demonstrated (figure 2). Keeping your knee and elbow straight, slowly lift your opposite arm and leg tightening your lower back and bottom muscles. Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat this process with the other arm and leg. Perform 10 times on each side provided it is pain free.
Figure 2 – Opposite Arm Leg Raises (right arm, left leg)
Lower Back Strengthening – Intermediate Exercises
The following intermediate lower back strengthening exercises should generally be performed 1 - 3 times per week provided they do not cause or increase pain. Ideally they should not be performed on consecutive days, to allow muscle recovery. As your lower back strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, number of sets or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Begin this exercise propped up on your elbows and toes with your back straight as demonstrated (figure 3). Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times.
Figure 3 – Prone Hold
Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your arms above your head as demonstrated (figure 4). Keeping your knees and elbows straight, slowly lift both arms and legs tightening your lower back and bottom muscles. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.
Figure 4 – Supermans
Begin this exercise propped up on one elbow and foot with your back straight as demonstrated (figure 5). Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times on each side.
Figure 5 – Side Holds (left side)
Resistance Band Rotation
Begin this exercise kneeling or standing with your back straight, holding a resistance band as demonstrated (figure 6). Slowly rotate your body keeping your arms and back straight. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions as far as possible provided it is pain free.
Figure 6 – Resistance Band Rotation (left side)
Lower Back Strengthening – Advanced Exercises
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