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Exercising your lower back muscles is one of the best ways to reduce your injury risk.
The stronger your back muscles are, the better support they provide for your spine. More spinal support means lower chance of injuring your back with incorrect movement or excessive strain.
But how you train your back muscles matters, too! If you’re not careful, your training could lead to serious lower back problems—the same problems you’re trying to prevent.
Below, we’re going to take a closer look at how you can safely train your lower back muscles to maximize strength, endurance, and mobility while decreasing injury risk.
Follow the simple advice listed below, and you’ll notice massive gains in lower back strength without hurting yourself.
Safely Train Your Lower Back Muscles By:
Stretching – The more you stretch your lower back, the better. Your back can get stiff from sitting in a chair all day, and the muscles and joint tissue will actually shorten and weaken over the course of years. You need to first lengthen your muscles and joints through stretches before training them to increase strength. Stretching will help to loosen up the tight connective tissue and make sure you have full freedom of movement.
Spend at least 10-20 minutes per day stretching your lower back. Make sure to stretch before your workouts to warm up the muscles and joints you’re going to be working, but spend some time in the evening at home stretching, too. Even simple, relaxing stretches flat on your back—such as Knee-to-Chest Stretch or Piriformis Stretch—can help to improve circulation and increase lower back mobility drastically.
Start Light – The last thing you want to do is over-burden your spinal muscles—that’s when injury is most likely to occur. Instead, start with very light weight, or no weight at all. Using your own bodyweight alone is still great for training your lower back muscles. You’ll get your body accustomed to moving its own weight, which will translate into normal movements in your everyday activities.
If you’re going to work with weights (barbell, dumbbell, etc.), start with far less than you think you’re capable of lifting. A few weeks of working with very light weights will help you to master the form and posture, then you can start gradually increasing the weight you lift.
Work on Your Form and Posture – Posture and form are EVERYTHING when it comes to weight training for your lower back! One wrong move (literally) in the wrong position could injure your spinal muscles or joints. It’s critical that you pay attention to your form and maintain controlled movement through the full motion of the workout. And keep your posture tight, upright, and correct to make sure your spine is properly aligned.
Don’t know the form? Watch some YouTube videos or get help from a trainer at your gym before trying any new exercise. Incorrect form can drastically increase your risk of lower back injuries!
Stop Before Pain – NEVER work to the point of pain or beyond. You should become familiar with the “burning” sensation that accompanies resistance training, when lactic acid builds up in fatiguing muscles. That is a very different pain from the tightness or sharp stabbing sensation of a lower back injury.
You’re training your lower back muscles, which means all the sensations should remain isolated to the muscles. If you feel anything in your spine, stop immediately and give your back a break. Pain is a signal that something is wrong, and it should be an indicator that you need to improve your form or posture or stretch out stiff and tired muscles.
The 5 Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Back Muscles
If you want to develop strong lower back muscles, here are the five best exercises you can do:
Bridge – Bridge is an exercise you can do with no weight, a static (no movement) exercise that will reduce your risk of lower back injury. It’s also one with enough variations that you should have no problem finding easier or more difficult options according to your current fitness level.
Back Hyperextensions – This is a great exercise to target just the lower back and glutes (which work with the lower back to extend your upper body). You’ll find that training with just your bodyweight is typically enough to start, but you can add more weight to increase the difficulty.
Supermans – This floor-based exercise is surprisingly challenging, using your own bodyweight to strengthen your lower back. You’ll love how it engages all the muscles in your back, even up to your shoulders, as well as down to your glutes and hamstrings.
Kettlebell Swing -- This exercise is amazing for developing a more resistant lower back even with movement involved. It will do wonders to improve stability and balance through a very full range of motion.
Bird Dog – The use of imbalance in this exercise can help to develop strength in a cross-body movement pattern (right arm to left leg, and vice versa).
Do these five exercises regularly, and you’ll see serious improvement in the strength of your lower back muscles.
Take Control of Your Back Health with Back on Track
If you’re worried about strengthening your lower back muscles, it means you’ve had or are concerned about back problems and want to take steps to prevent or treat issues. Good for you! These steps can make a world of difference in your spinal health.
Take it another step farther with Back on Track, a program designed to help you address the underlying causes behind so many back problems. Our course will walk you through the dangerous syndrome that could be the root of back issues, the source of pain among so many highly active and otherwise healthy individuals. By going through the materials, you’ll learn the best steps you can take daily to bulletproof your lower back muscles against injury—for the rest of your life!
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