You might still be young, but that ache in your lower back tells you it's time to do exercises and maintain your lumbar spine health. Your low back needs two other things: Flexible hamstrings and support from your abdomen. So, stretch your hamstrings and strengthen your abdomen along with your back. Try abdominal compressions by sitting tall and compressing your abdomen in toward your spine. Hold that gentle compression throughout your day and while performing low back exercises.
Add the shoulder bridge exercise to your routine for low back strengthening. It also strengthens your glutes and thighs which are also important to core strength. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Compress your abdomen and feel your spine straighten. Raise your hips off the floor until there is a straight line between your knees, hips and shoulders. Avoid arching your low back. Take three slow breaths and hold the shoulder bridge. Repeat eight times and increase to 15 repetitions as you get stronger.
Low Back Bridge
A low back bridge exercise strengthens and creates flexibility in your low back. It targets the muscles along your vertebrae called erector spinae which extend to your spine. Start the low back bridge by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Tighten the muscles of your low back, which will curve your spine upward. Relax your spine down to the mat as you compress your stomach toward your spine. Perform the whole sequence eight times to strengthen your abdomen and low back muscles and improve low back flexibility.
Physio Ball Extensions
Use a physio ball, also called a stability ball, to increase range of motion while performing back strengthening exercises. The up phase of the motion targets your low back, buttocks and hamstring muscles. The down phase flexes your spine forward and lengthens it, promoting flexibility. Start by placing your pelvis and abdomen on top of the ball. Put your hands on the floor, fingers pointing straight ahead and wrists directly under your shoulders. Compress your abdomen upward into your spine and keep it there. Put your legs together and raise them off of the floor until your entire body is parallel to the ground. Slowly lower your toes toward the ground and raise them up to hip height. Continue for 15 repetitions.
Trunk rotations move your low back and trunk from side-to-side, engaging your obliquus abdominis stomach muscles and multifidus deep back muscles. Trunk rotations help with mobility and low back pain. Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your arms in a letter "T" position and compress your abdomen. Rotate your knees and pelvis to the right and pause to stretch. Reverse the motion. This is a low back rotation stretch. For strengthening, raise your feet off the floor until your thigh bone is perpendicular to the floor and rotate your knees and trunk slowly side-to-side. Feel your abdomen engage and avoid arching your spine.
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: Back Exercises in 15 Minutes a Day
- Spine-Health: Sciatica Exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease
- ACE GetFit: Stability Ball Reverse Extensions
- Spine Health: Back Muscles and Low Back Pain
- Women's Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
Lynne Shaw has been a professional writer for more than 15 years. She additionally enjoyed a long career in news/talk radio production and anchoring. Her articles have appeared in numerous national and regional publications. She is a contributor in "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul."