5 Essential Lower Back Strengthening Exercises

5 Essential Lower Back Strengthing Exercises Slide with Woman Showing Back PainA Sarah Key Video: 5 Essential Lower Back Strengthening Exercises

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See spinal expert, author and physiotherapist Sarah Key explaining why your back might be weak and the best exercises you can do for lower back strengthening.

Many people have a lower back that ‘feels weak’.  However, back strengthening exercises can be tricky because and it’s important to target the deep spinal muscles, rather than the generally over-active long cable muscles either side of the spine. 


1. The Wiggly Waggly Exercise

This re-awakens important spinal muscles that tend to switch off in the presence of chronic low back pain. It is also an ideal exercise for very strong people (say weight lifters - particularly dead-lifters) whose long back muscles and gluteals have become over-dominant. The wiggly waggly back exercises are so subtle you can even do them in bed at night. Or better still, just before getting up to help alleviate morning stiffness and morning back pain. 

2.  Wiggly Waggly in Sitting 

The sitting version shows you how to gird yourself up with a supple spine to help you face the day. It is astonishingly effective at switching on both core and spinal muscles to make your spine more strong and bendable. It also makes you less disabled by morning stiffness where you find it difficult making the bed, getting dressed and bending over the hand-basin.

 3.  Spinal Segmental Bridging and Knees to the Chest  

This back muscle strengthening exercise helps you cope with important basic positional changes, such as rolling over and shifting your weight in bed. The 'knees to the chest' also shown is another of Sarah's important exercises she uses at different times. Here she uses it to unclench the spine, to open apart the segments at the back and to get rid of the lactic acid build-up in the gluteal and back muscles after exertion. 

4. Bending Over to Touch the Toes and Unfurling to Vertical 

This is perhaps most important strengthening exercise for the lower back. It accentuates normal bending activity in everyday life - so that it becomes natural to use your spine normally again, like a strong, bendy willow rather than as a rigid pillar. Sarah shows you how to do it properly by 'pre-humping' and reefing your tummy in hard to create a retaining wall to safely brace the spine. Take care! If you have not bent properly for years, you can easily overdo this exercise. Until it becomes second nature, you should only bend over formally, as shown in the video, twice, two times a day only. 

5. Using The Roman Chair and Unfurling to Horizontal  

This is the ultimate back strengthening exercise. It is extremely strenuous and incorporates 'hanging heavy' to drop the lumbar spinal segments apart - like elongating the lower end of a concertina - between each active phase, thus invoking valuable pressure changes so necessary for disc healing. The distraction phase is followed my strenuous segmental unfurling of the spine back up to horizontal to powerfully re-educate the deep spinal muscles.  This exercise should also be followed by 'knees rocking' exercise to reduced soreness.

Beware! Anyone with raised blood pressure, acute back symptoms, or any form of leg pain (sciatica) must NOT do this exercise. If in doubt, please seek the advice of your treating doctor.


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