The lower back muscles may be small in size, but they have a big job. These muscles help you stand and allow you to lift objects.
Over time – and if you sit for most of the day – the lower back muscles can become strained and overworked.
Exercising these muscles will help prevent lower back pain and keep you limber as you age. It will also help you prevent issues such as sciatic nerve pain. Click here for some solutions if you are dealing with this type of pain.
These five exercises are easy to perform and gentle, so you can maintain your strength without putting your safety at risk.
1. Knee-to-Chest Hug
Knee-to-chest hugs are a great way to stretch the lower back while helping improving strength in this key area of the body.
To perform this exercise, you will need to be on the floor. Use a mat to provide extra cushioning for your spine. A yoga mat or thicker exercise mat will work perfectly.
Do not perform this exercise directly on hard flooring, as it can cause discomfort.
- Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent.
- Bring your knees to your chest, wrapping your arms around your calves to bring your thighs closer to your upper body.
- Keep your head on the ground to prevent neck strain.
It’s okay if you cannot bring your knees all the way to your chest. Pull your knees in as far as you comfortably can without feeling pain.
For a deeper stretch, use your hands to pull your knees all the way to your chest.
The superman exercise will strengthen your lower back, your upper body and your glutes.
To perform this exercise, you will need to be on the floor. You’ll also need a mat or to work on a soft, carpeted surface. Just like with the previous exercise, you do not want to perform the superman on hard flooring.
- Start out by lying flat on your stomach, face down and with your arms straight out in front of you.
- Slowly raise your arms and your legs up off the floor at the same time.
- Lift as far as you can – slowly – without feeling any pain.
- Lower your arms and legs.
- Repeat 10 times.
The superman is a very effective strength-building exercise, but it’s important not to push your limits too far. The goal is to strengthen your lower back – not injure it.
The bridge is a classic exercise that works the lower back and glutes in a safe, gentle manner.
You’ll be on the floor again for this exercise, and you’ll need a mat.
- Start out by lying with your back flat on the floor, knees bent.
- With your palms flat on the floor, raise your hips to lift your lower back and butt off the floor.
- Lift your hips as high as you can without lifting your feet off the floor.
- Lower down.
- Repeat 10 times.
While performing bridges, make sure to keep your head and neck flat on the floor to prevent strain and pain.
4. Cat Stretch
Cat stretch is a gentle exercise that will help you maintain flexibility in your lower back. An integral part of many yoga routines, this stretch feels great and is easy on the spine.
Like with all of the previous exercises, you will need to be on the floor to perform this stretch and you will need a yoga mat.
- Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- As you inhale, lift your tailbone, raise your chin and tilt your head back.
- Hold for three breaths.
- On an exhale, arch your back up and drop your chin to your chest. Imagine your back is being pulled up to the sky.
- Hold for three breaths.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat five times, or as many times as you feel comfortable.
Cat stretch is a great way to keep the entire upper back limber and flexible.
5. Lumbar Twist Stretch
The lumbar twist stretch is a great way to cool down after a workout and willl also work to stretch the lower back.
A flexible lower back will help prevent pain and injuries.
You’ll also need a mat for this exercise, or a soft surface, such as carpeting.
- Begin by lying flat on the floor.
- Bend your right knee.
- Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee, and gently pull your thigh toward the left side of your body for a gentle twist.
- Stretch your right arm out straight and turn your head to face your right arm.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
If your lower back and hips are particularly tight, you may not be able to pull your knee over very far (that’s okay!). Only stretch your body as far as feels comfortable. Overdoing it will only cause injury or hurt your body.
On the other hand, you may be extra flexible. In this case, you can gently press on your upper thigh to bring your knee closer to the ground.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.