Strong Foundations: Building and Maintaining a Strong Low Back

Strengthen Lower back Muscle

Back Pain / July 12, 2015

Every minute of every day, a network of muscles in your body's core ceaselessly toils to shift stress and strain away from your lower spine — and by doing so keeps you free of lower back pain. That’s why it’s important to give those muscles an assist by making them stronger.

According to a review published in February 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine, exercise can reduce a person’s risk of developing lower back pain, as well as someone’s need to take sick days related to lower back pain. In addition, a regular regimen of back exercises can help build muscles, making them better able to support your spine. Experts recommend back exercise sessions of 15 to 30 minutes, two to three times each week.

Start Back Exercises With a Good Stretch

Stretching improves flexibility in the muscles that support your back. That flexibility can be very important in preventing lower back pain when the spine is subjected to extreme stress.

Before you start any sort of back exercise program, be sure to consult your family doctor — especially if you already have trouble with lower back pain. Remember to stretch slowly, breathe deeply, and pay attention to your muscles — a stretch should feel good, not painful.

Consider giving these stretches a try:

Pelvic tilt. Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms at your sides. Press the base of your spine into the floor for a few seconds, tilting your hips up, then relax. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Double knee to chest. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cup your hands just under your knees and gently pull your knees toward your chest. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your legs to the starting position. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Side stretch. From a standing position, stretch one arm over your head while bending your body to the opposite side. Keep your other hand on your waist. Perform this stretch in a flowing motion, without jerking or twisting your body. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times on each side.

Back arch. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your palms on your lower back. Bend backward, exhaling and supporting your back with your hands. Keep your knees straight. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Routine Exercises to Strengthen Support for the Lower Back

One of the best exercises for reducing the risk of back pain focuses not on your back but on your front, says Nick Shamie, MD, an associate professor of spine surgery at UCLA School of Medicine, and director of spinal deformity surgery at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Abdominal crunches are very good for the lower back, " Dr. Shamie says. "The abs provide invaluable support for your spine."