Top 10 lower back exercises

The lower back is a complex area that includes many muscles, bones and connections. It is responsible for a wide range of motions, including bending forward and backwards, twisting and side bending. It can also be prone to injuries if not treated properly.

In this blog post, we will discuss the lower back in detail. We will look at the primary muscles and bones involved and the range of motion. We will also provide you with the top ten lower back exercises that target the lower back muscles and stretches to improve flexibility and range of motion.

Lower Back Bones

– The lumbar spine is made up of five bones, known as vertebrae. These bones are stacked on top of each other and separated by discs.

– The vertebrae are held together by ligaments and muscles, which allow for a wide range of motion and stabilises the area during movement

– The lowest vertebra in the spine is called the Lumbar vertebra. It is responsible for moving the body forward and backwards. Other bones assist with twisting and side bending.

The lumbar spine is connected to the pelvis via two large muscles, known as the psoas and iliacus. These muscles attach to the inside of the pelvis and run down to the thigh bone. They are responsible for bending the torso forward and pulling it towards the thighs.

The lumbar spine is connected to the hip joint and pelvis, allowing movement in all directions.

Lower Back Muscles

  • The main muscles in the lower back are called the erector spinae. These muscles run up and down the spine and are responsible for bending and straightening

The gluteus maximus (buttocks) is also a muscle in the lower back. It is responsible for extending the hip joint and moving the thigh backwards.

The lumbar spine is connected to the pelvis via two large muscles, known as the psoas and iliacus. These muscles attach to the inside of the pelvis and run down to the thigh bone. They are responsible for bending the torso forward and pulling it towards the thighs.

Lower Back Range of Motion

The lower back has a wide range of motion, which allows us to move our bodies in many different directions. Some of the most common actions include:

  • Bending forward and backwards
  • Twisting
  • Side bending

Many connecting muscle groups affect the range of motion of the back, and these include the hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, rectus abdominis (abs), transverse abdominis (deep abs), gluteus maximus (buttocks) and those of the upper back. These muscles should not be ignored if you want to maintain a healthy back.

Example of a lower back exercise the back extension

Top 10 Lower Back Exercises

Now that we have discussed the lower back in detail, it’s time to move on to the Top 10 exercises. The following exercises are a great way to target the lower back and muscles that aid stability and movement.

#1 – Seated row

Target muscles: Erector spinae (Spine) and rhomboid (upper back)

How to:

  • Sit with your knees bent and pull the resistance band towards your chest, keeping your back straight
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement
  • Pause and then slowly lower the weight back to starting position

Repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Keep your back straight and don’t allow it to round

Variations: –

  • Standing row
  • Bent over row
  • One-arm row

#2 – Kettlebell Swing

Target muscles: Erector spinae (spine), gluteus maximus (buttocks) and hamstrings

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hold a kettlebell with both hands between your legs
  • Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height
  • Swing the kettlebell back between your legs and repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Don’t let the kettlebell swing too high, or it will put pressure on your lower back

#3 – Good mornings with a barbell

Target muscles: Erector spinae (spine), gluteus maximus (buttocks) and hamstrings

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hold a barbell across your shoulders with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist and lower the barbell as far as you can go without rounding your back
  • Pause and then lift the barbell back to starting position
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Don’t let your back round at any point during the exercise

Variations: –

Good mornings with dumbbells

#4 – Hamstring curls with resistance band

Target muscles: Hamstrings

How to:

  • Lie on your back with both legs straight, loop a resistance band around a sturdy object and hold it with both hands
  • Bend at the knee and curl the leg up towards your chest, squeezing your hamstring at the top of the movement
  • Pause and then slowly lower the weight back to starting position

Repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Keep your leg straight and don’t let it curl up too high, or you will put pressure on your lower back

Variations: –

  • Hamstring curls with weights
  • Seated hamstring curls
  • lying hamstring curls

#5 – Glute bridge

Target muscles: Gluteus maximus (buttocks)

How to:

  • Lie flat on your back with feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart, and legs bent to 90 degrees.
  • Push through your heels and lift your torso and upper legs into the air, extending your hips until your thighs and torso are in line with each other
  • Hold for two seconds, and slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Don’t let your hips sag, or you will lose the tension on your glutes

Variations: –

#6 – Reverse hyperextensions

Target muscles: Gluteus maximus (buttocks) and hamstrings

How to:

  • lie facing down over an inclines bench or high chair with your legs hanging free
  • Keeping your core engaged, lift your legs off the ground until they are making a banana shape out of your body
  • Pause and then slowly lower them back to starting position
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Don’t let your hips sag, or you will lose the tension on your glutes and hamstrings and focus on your range of motion.

Variations: –

  • Swiss ball reverse hyperextensions
  • Weighted reverse hyperextensions

#7 – Swiss ball rollout

Target muscles: Rectus abdominis (abs), transverse abdominis (deep abs) and gluteus maximus (buttocks)

How to:

  • Place your hands on a Swiss ball and walk your feet forward until your hips are over the ball
  • Keeping your back flat, slowly rollout until you reach straight arms
  • Pause and then walk your feet back to the starting position
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps

Tip: Don’t let your hips sag, or you will lose the tension on your abs and glutes

#8 – Pilates Scissors

Target muscles: Rectus abdominis (abs), transverse abdominis (deep abs) and gluteus maximus (buttocks)

How to:

  • Lie on your back with both legs in the air and bent at a 90-degree angle, hands by your sides
  • Slowly lower and straighten one leg towards the floor while keeping the other leg in the air
  • Switch legs and repeat
  • Repeat

Tip: Keep your abs pulled in, and don’t let either leg touch the floor

Variations: –

Swiss ball Pilates scissors

#9 – Superman

Target muscles: Rectus abdominis (abs), transverse abdominis (deep abs) and gluteus maximus (buttocks)

How to:

  • Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you, legs together and feet flexed
  • Lift your chest, head, arms and legs off the ground
  • Hold for two seconds and then slowly lower everything back to the starting position
  • Repeat

Tip: Keep your neck relaxed, and don’t arch your back

#10 – Bird dog

Target muscles: Gluteus Maximus (butt) and erector spinae (lower back)

How to:

  • Get down on all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees hip-width apart.
  • Extend your right leg and left arm until parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, then return to start.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Keep your core engaged, so you don’t sag in the middle. You should be able to see your navel drawn up towards your spine.

Lower Back Stretches

Many stretches can help improve flexibility and range of motion in the lower back. Some of the most effective stretches include:

#1 – Hamstring stretch

Target muscles: Hamstrings

How to:

  • Stand with one foot in front of the other, bend your forward leg and lean towards the back of your rear leg
  • Keep your back straight and reach for your ankle or toes
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs

Tip: Make sure you don’t arch your back

#2 – Seated spinal twist

Target muscles: Spinal rotators

How to:

Sit on the floor with your legs crossed, place your right hand on the floor behind you and lean back slightly.

Twist your upper body to the right and look over your shoulder, hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides

Tip: Keep your back straight, and don’t let it twist with your upper body. You should feel the stretch in your spinal rotators.

#3 – Cat-cow pose

Target muscles: Spinal flexors and extensors

How to:

  • Get down on all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees hip-width apart.
  • Inhale as you drop your belly button towards the floor and lift your head and tailbone.
  • Exhale as you tuck your chin to your chest, round your spine and push your hips towards the ceiling.
  • Repeat.

Tip: Keep your neck relaxed, and don’t let your back sag in either position.

#4 – Lower back extension

Target muscles: Erector spinae

How to:

  • Lie flat on your stomach with legs straight and arms by your sides
  • Slowly lift your head, chest and upper legs off the ground, hold for two seconds and then lower everything back to the starting position.
  • Repeat

Tip: Keep your neck relaxed, and don’t arch your back. If this is too difficult, you can bend your knees.

#5 – Pelvic Tilt

Target muscles: Erector spinae and abdominal muscles

How to:

  • Lie flat on your back with legs straight, place your hands by your sides and tuck your chin into your chest
  • Slowly flatten your back against the ground and tilt your pelvis up towards the ceiling. Hold for two seconds and then lower everything back to the starting position
  • Repeat

#6 – Bridges

Target muscles: Gluteus maximus

How to:

  • Lie flat on your back with legs bent, feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart.
  • Push through your heels and lift your torso and upper legs into the air, hold for two seconds and then lower everything back to the starting position
  • Repeat

Top 5 Causes of Lower back injuries

The lower back can be prone to injuries if not treated properly. Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Herniated discs are the most common type of injury in the lower back. A herniated disc is a rupture in the outer rings of the spinal discs that can cause pain, tingling and numbness
  • Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated. This compression can cause pain, tingling and weakness down one leg
  • Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing can cause pain, tingling and numbness in the legs
  • Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebra slips out of place on top of the one below it. The slipping can cause back pain and stiffness
  • A sudden movement or overuse usually causes back strains or sprains.

How to Prevent Lower Back Injuries

There are many ways that you can prevent lower back injuries from occurring. Some of the most effective methods include:

  • Stretching before and after exercise. This will help loosen up your muscles and reduce the risk of injury
  • Strengthening your core muscles. This will help support your lower back and protect it from injury
  • Wearing supportive shoes. This will help keep your posture straight and reduce the risk of injuries
  • Taking regular breaks during extended periods of sitting or standing to stretch out your back and legs

Conclusion

That’s it! You now know all about the lower back, its muscles, bones and range of motion. We also gave you a list of 10 exercises to target these muscles and stretches to improve flexibility and range of motion. Remember to consult with your doctor before starting any new workout routine, especially if you have an existing injury. And be sure to let us know how you go with these exercises – we love hearing from our readers!

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