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Weak Lower Back Keeping you Down? Read This

By Hybrid Gym LA

Let’s talk about low back weakness, the exercises you should be doing and the exercises you should not be doing until you get that strength up. 

It is estimated that 75%-85% of Americans experience some sort of back pain in their lifetime. If this pain is not from a specific injury or medical condition, it is most likely due to low back/core weakness. Weak core muscles will not have the strength to hold the spine up and in line, leading to pain and discomfort. If you have a sedentary desk job, this is something to look out for since the core is not getting the stimulus it needs. 

Exercises to to avoid if you have a weak lower back/core and why: 

  • Running: The hard impact of running can flare up back pain. Since the body cannot support the spine right now, it is best to stay away. 
  • Sit Ups: This common exercise surprisingly is not the best one for building total core strength. The extreme flexion of the spine may make back pain worse. Stick to exercises that work to stabilize the spine instead of moving it.
  • Box Jumps: Same reasoning as running. That hard impact may not be the best way to go. 
  •  Double Leg Raises: This is a great exercise but build up to it! Start with single leg or bent-knee toe taps instead. 
  • Toe Touch (Forward Fold) Stretch: This forward motion of the spine might aggravate low back pain. Yes, it is good to stretch the body. Instead, try stretching out the hamstrings by lying on your back and using a towel or band around the foot to lift that leg straight in the air and hold. 

Exercises to do to strengthen the low back/core and why: 

When it comes to core strengthening exercises you want to first work on core stabilization and anti-movements(anti-rotation, anti flexion and extension). This creates a greater ability to resist force, making your low back/core stronger during not just a workout, but also daily life. Once you are feeling strong in these movements, you can start to add in flexion, extension and rotation movements. 

  • Birddog: This exercise helps strengthen the lumbar and deep core musculature. Think of keeping the core tight and the spine in line from head to tailbone. 
  • Glute Bridge: Helps strengthen the glutes, low back and core muscles. Think of really squeezing the glutes up to a straight line while keeping the spine stable. 
  • Planks: Everyones “love to hate” exercise. You can start slow with an incline plank or ramp it up with a plank reach. Think of keeping the low ribs tucked in and keeping your muscles contracted through the entire hold of the movement. 
  • Deadbug: Basically the reverse of the birddog! The low back should not gap from the floor. Keep everything tight and use those core muscles to pull the arms and legs in. 
  • Hyperextensions: These help strengthen the erector spinae muscles (the muscles that climb up the spine) as well as glutes and hamstrings. 
  • Good Mornings: If you have not mastered the above, leave these be for now and you can come back to them later. Similar to hyperextensions, good mornings focus on the stabilization of the core through building strength in the low back musculature, glutes and hamstrings. 

A weak core/low back is unfortunately very common in today’s world. But there are ways to combat it and make yourself stronger!