September 24, 2021

How to strengthen your lower back

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It could be a sign you need to work on your core (Picture: Getty)When it comes to working out, we all have our different routines.

But one area lots of people tend to neglect is their lower back.

Sure, it might not be the most glamorous set of muscles but they are important for our overall health and core strength. 

Daniel Carpenter, from Common Purpose Club says: ‘Your lower back plays an integral role in stabilising your body and optimising power production during exercises such as sprinting, lifting and jumping. 

‘Strengthening your lower back will also reduce the risk of injury in this area.’

Weaker lower backs can arise when we prioritise ab workouts – AKA the front muscles – and forget that we should be working the rest of our core, too.

Carline Deal, founder of Trinity Yoga, delves into this in a little more detail. 

She says: ‘The body is an incredible thing, all parts are individually as important as the whole. But it’s vital to understand how the body works together in order to strengthen a particular area.

‘The muscles of the abdomen work in conjunction with those of the lower back, hips and just below the rib cage.’

So, with this in mind, when it comes to strengthening your lower back you need to pay attention to the whole of your core.

Another reason for weaker lower backs is the fact that the majority of our days are spent sitting at a desk.

‘Most of us sit too much these days, so the lower back is weaker and compromised. Sitting in a chair create inflexibility around the pelvic girdle (pelvis to you and me) as well as the hamstrings, adductors and ankles,’ adds Cat Duval, yogi provocateur and founder of Nine Lives Yoga.

So what can be done about it? 

Get moving
Strengthening your back is as much about the core as it is about the back (Picture: Getty)Will Cloke, a director at Revolution Personal Training Studios, says: ‘The first thing to do if you’re recently back to the gym is to get your body moving around – so things like light full-body exercises would be perfect.

‘But the big don’ts would be going straight into lower back specific large movements/exercises like deadlifts that apply pressure directly to your lower back. 

‘This is just too much pressure on this area without giving your body enough time to strengthen.’

Bodyweight lower back workout:

Personal trainer Kate Mornard suggests the below workout for strengthening a lower back:

Complete 3 x 12 reps for each.

Glute bridges
Deadbug
Arrested superman
Bird-dog 

Yoga and stretching
Sitting down for long periods can do awful things to our backs and posture – but regular yoga and stretching can go a long way to help.

Carline says: ‘For lower backs, we recommend postures and poses that strengthen the abdominal muscles (i.e. lie flat and lift legs), side stretches to extend the intercostal muscles (along your ribs) and opening poses such as squatting to lengthen your hip flexors (inside your groin and around your hips) to strengthen the back muscles. 

‘Over time, your lower back with feel more stable and less angry with sudden movements.’

While Cat delves into specific yoga poses you can try at home.

She says: ‘Stand with knees bent leaning on the arm of a sofa and slowly come into a forward fold holding the sofa arm from the side, or bench, or towel rail. Just make sure it’s properly attached so you don’t go flying across the room.

‘Keep it slow and steady – slow movement avoids shocking the body and so you are more likely to be able to get deeper stretches.

‘It’s key to be slow and listen to your body – if it feels good, it is good. Avoid sharp movement on the whole while building up strength, and always switch on the core (lower abs) before any lifting.’

Lifting
It’s important not to go straight in with heavy lifting, but once you feel like you’re making progress with your lower back strength, it’s definitely something to build up to.

Cat adds: ‘Deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts and squats are also good for lower back strengthening, as are “good mornings.”

‘The key is to start with just your own body weight and then build up, if you don’t have weights use milk or juice cartons.

‘But if you are not a fan of weights, then a simple sun salutation sequence will help mobilise the spine and major joints in minutes.’

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