I have a very weak lower back which dates back to the time when I was 12, a gymnast and had a fall on the uneven bars where I whacked my back on the lower bar and tumbled to the ground – that was also the day my gymnastics career ended before it had even been able to start properly!
I have to constantly remember to strengthen my back and force myself to do these exercises. I find them really boring and would rather be working on my flexibility as I’d love to be able to do the splits again but as we all know, only strengthening your arms means you can lift a little weight, strengthening your whole body means you can lift a lot of weight. It’s the same principle with your back. If you’re back is strong, you’ll be able to do a load more exercises.
Here are a few that I do (more sporadically than I care to admit – naughty me!)
Lie on your back, feet flat and hip-width apart, arms relaxed, and knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks as you lift your hips, creating a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold for a slow count of two, then lower slowly. Build up to 10 to 12 repetitions.
To make it harder, lift one foot off the floor and hold it straight up toward the ceiling, foot flexed, keeping the hips even. This is much more challenging, so start by holding this pose for just a few seconds. Repeat five to eight times, then switch legs.
To perform the Back extension on Fitball safely, please follow these steps:
- Begin leaning over ball with hips and stomach on the ball, with knees off the floor and feet hip width apart
- With your hands on your temples, slowly raise your shoulders as high as possible without moving the ball
- Now slowly lower your body back on to the ball, avoid resting your chin on the ball after each rep
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you can no longer maintain the correct technique
Opposite Arm Leg Raises
Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your arms above your head as demonstrated. Keeping your knee and elbow straight, slowly lift your opposite arm and leg tightening your lower back and bottom muscles. Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat this process with the other arm and leg. Perform 10 times on each side provided it is pain free.
Lower Back Strengthening – Intermediate Exercises
The following intermediate lower back strengthening exercises should generally be performed 1 – 3 times per week provided they do not cause or increase pain. Ideally they should not be performed on consecutive days, to allow muscle recovery. As your lower back strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, number of sets or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Plank Hold (also known as a Prone Hold)
Begin this exercise propped up on your elbows and toes with your back straight as demonstrated. Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times.
Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your arms above your head as demonstrated. Keeping your knees and elbows straight, slowly lift both arms and legs tightening your lower back and bottom muscles. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.
Begin this exercise propped up on one elbow and foot with your back straight as demonstrated. Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times on each side.