Exercises to strengthen the lower back
You live your wonderful life like this, and after an unsuccessfully taken package or a sharp inclination, pain in the lower back occurs. All homemade ointments, tinctures, a belt made of dog hair, and a grandmother’s warm shawl are used. Who is to blame, and what to do? Read this article.
Why you need to strengthen your lower back muscles
The very simple answer to this question is to live fully. Given the structure of the human spine, the best option would be to walk not on two limbs but on four, relying on arms and legs. But evolutionarily, man has taken a vertical position. It happened about 7 million years ago. This fact was established based on the fossil remains of the Chadian Sahelanthropus found in the Republic of Chad in Africa.
Standing on two legs is illogical; it is an unstable position; we would fall without the constant support of balance from the toes and feet. Any dog or cat is much more stable than us. And compared to the owner, the cat runs much faster; she does not need to drag the weight of the entire body only on her hind legs.
In humans, the whole body’s weight is distributed on two relatively small (relative to the rest of the body) feet. This is already a colossal load on the spine. What, then, is the advantage of walking on two legs? There are several hypotheses about the transition to bipedalism. First, the ability to carry food not only in the mouth but also in the hands is a clear evolutionary advantage.
Secondly, the two-legged stance increases the angle and height of the view, allowing you to spot predators and prey. Monkeys, like us, did not have sharp claws and fangs. Getting away from a predator before it notices is a huge survival plus.
And thirdly, the two-legged stance makes the individual visually larger, which makes it intimidating and gives benefits in self-defense, establishing power, and choosing a woman. To see this, remember the male gorilla (): when he needs to defend himself or show off, he stands on his hind legs.
Here is another curious fact: about 2.5 million years ago, there was a significant increase in the volume of the human brain due to a mutation that weakened the powerful jaw muscles. And this allowed the skull to develop to a larger size.
Around the same time, a skilled man began to use stone tools. They hunted, dug the earth, and crushed food. Due to this powerful jump, individuals with a weakened jaw did not die out and began to continue the genus.
Stoneworking and hunting came into the new life, and the need for jumping and climbing trees and strong arms diminished. Therefore, gradually, a person loses a lot of arms and gains a lot of legs. Today, the weight of the legs is almost half the weight of the entire body!
Such a transfer could not help but affect the spine. People walked on earth and clay, not in shoes. And to minimize the impact load, a person developed two spinal curves: lordosis and kyphosis.
Previously, a person spent 90% of the time on his feet and at work. What do we have today? There is transportation, so we only need to walk a little. Most have a sedentary job; we work with the upper body and forget about the coccyx and lower back. Individual insoles or orthopedic shoes cost decent money. It’s only sometimes possible to afford such a luxury, but you want to look beautiful, so you regularly wear the wrong high heel or flat shoes.
All this leads to the fact that one fine day, after playing with children or carrying packages, it sharply “shoots” in the back area, and this pain makes you want to climb the wall and return to those wonderful moments when your back did not hurt.
So why do the back and lower back hurt?
The lumbar spine consists of five large vertebrae. Inside the spine passes the main part of the human nervous system, which is therefore equipped with many nerve endings. In the normal state, the spinal column in the lumbar region has a slight bend (physiological lordosis). Also, the spinal column is represented by many complex connecting elements and flexible joints; to ensure all this, there is a complex and dense circulatory system.
The causes of fatigue and pain in this complex system most often lie in factors such as:
- Extra weight. Everything is clear: excess body weight puts an excessive load on the spinal column and causes back pain.
- Past injuries are mentioned in the anamnesis—fractures, and cracks, not just the spine. According to the law of anatomical trains, any violation will be reflected in the biomechanics of body movements.
- Structural changes in the spine—protrusion and herniation of the intervertebral discs. The worse the “pillow” in the form of disk functions, the more acutely the vertebrae endure stress, which develops into pain and dysfunction.
- Pregnancy or childbirth: during pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity shifts, and the load on the spine increases.
- Posture disorders: scoliosis, hyperlordosis, or kyphosis. All violations of the spinal column lead to overstrain of the gluteal and femoral muscles and the iliac-lumbar region. All this also leads to lower back pain. Straighten up!
- Menopause occurs in both men and women. Yes, men also have such a period. Hormonal changes lead to bone weakness and even osteoporosis, affecting the spine.
- Excessive physical work. Loaders, couriers, gardeners, surgeons, and waiters—all these professions are associated with huge loads, including on the spine. In addition, long-standing weather conditions and the need for sharp, jerky movements also contribute to back pain. This also includes comrades who, from the first day in the gym, are trying to drag a 100-kilogram barbell, like that dude opposite. You can get hemorrhoids quickly.
- Need for physical work. Drivers, office workers, gamers, and freelancers spend most of the day in an office chair without warming up or receiving periodic penetrations, which affects the quality of their muscles and joints.
All these conditions require intervention in the form of bandages, corsets, a doctor’s consultation, or simple weight loss.
However, there are conditions where the doctor should be the top priority.
When should you see a doctor?
Red flags, under which you cannot self-medicate but need to run to the doctor!
- If it hurts in the chest area but the pain “shoots” in the lower back.
- If it’s not just a pain in the lumbar region, but sweat comes out sharply, shortness of breath occurs, and you also feel sick and vomit, call an ambulance and see a doctor!
- If the pain from the lower back “gives” to the stomach, chest, neck, or jaw
- If you feel dizzy and faint from back pain,
- If you feel that your heart is about to jump out of your chest and your pulse is racing,
- If a spinal injury occurs, in which control over the acts of defecation and urination is lost,
- If the legs give way from pain in the lower back, the perineum or buttocks become numb.
Which doctor should I contact?
You need to make an appointment with a doctor to avoid wasting time on traditional medicine and conspiracies for ailments. The cause of lower back pain can be anything, so the first in line is our therapist. He will help determine the cause of the pain and refer you to a narrower specialist. This specialist can be anyone, from a gynecologist to a nephrologist. I deliberately do not indicate the entire medical list so that in an attempt to save time, I do not harm.
About self-treatment, I do not recommend it. We have been studying for seven years at medical universities, and patients today come with garlic tied to their hands in the hope that the pain will go away. The 21st century is here, all research methods are available, even in ordinary clinics, and all medicine is aimed at the patient’s benefit.
Pain is good. Because pain is a signal from the body that a failure has occurred in some part of it and it is necessary to return to the “good” state, To do this, the doctor will prescribe adequate treatment, including massage, manual therapy, physiotherapy exercises, and moderate exercise, which will eliminate the cause and not suppress it with endless ointments and pills.
What load should not be given for back pain? General contraindications for training
Before I tell you what can and should be done, it would be right to tell you what not to do, not to harm yourself.
- It is strictly forbidden to perform pain relief exercises in poor general health, including increased body temperature, chills, cold sweat, weakness, malaise, high or low blood pressure, and a high or low pulse.
- Jumps of all calibers and stripes. Here are the “burpees,” jumping from foot to foot and jumping rope. Despite their seeming simplicity, they require coordination and supplied equipment. When jumping, pressure is applied to the intervertebral discs. An incorrect technique displaces incorrectly lying vertebrae and hurts existing hernias or abrasions.
- Heavy deadlifts. These include Romanian deadlifts, bent-over rows, and bent-over rows with weights on the shoulders. With this type of exercise, additional weight is included, often exceeding the safe load rate on the lower back. When performing these exercises, there is a high risk of “tearing” the back and exacerbating the pathology of the musculoskeletal system.
- Heavy-weight squats. Large weights in pathologies will not only not strengthen the legs and lower back muscles but, on the contrary, will lead to an excessive load on the vertebrae of the thoracic, lumbar, and coccygeal spine.
- Almost all types of hyperextension. Hyperextension loads the axial part of the spine and strengthens the back, lower back, abs, and buttocks muscles with one BUT—if your musculoskeletal system is healthy or almost healthy. Otherwise, these exercises will lead to an increase in and worsening of existing pain.
- Favorite planks lasting over 30 seconds. The plank is a difficult exercise that strengthens the chest, abs, back, and arms muscles. Exercising for more than 30 seconds, especially at the beginning of the training path, will strain the back and lower back and increase pain.
- Hyperextension of the lower back muscles: In this case, stretching for more than 2 minutes took great effort. The spine does not need excessive flexibility, especially in the presence of pathologies. Of course, pulling is always pleasant; after them, it seems even the pain is a little less. But with hernias and protrusions, this is just a trick of the body.
An important note: all permissible and prohibited exercises should be determined by a specialist based on amnesia.
Why gymnastics for the back and not pills, ointments, and a shawl?
Exercises to strengthen the lower back solve the problem of pain. But analgesics and muscle relaxants relieve symptoms for a while. At first, one does not cancel the other, but regular exercise can solve the problem of lower back pain in the long run. The main thing is not to give up.
What are the other benefits of exercise?
- The muscle corset is built up, and the small paravertebral muscles are strengthened. Due to this, the discs and vertebrae are stabilized in their natural physiological state.
- The blood supply to the bone, cartilage and soft tissues will improve with nutrients.
- The severity of pain decreases, or even complete relief from them occurs;
Convinced? Now let’s get started!
General safety and execution rules
Safety first! Therefore, before training, the room should be properly ventilated. Should be fresh and airy. Cold and even coolness are unacceptable to avoid catching a cold in the lower back. Also, class clothing should be loose-fitting and made of breathable and sweat-absorbing materials.
Regarding the execution technique:
- We perform all movements very smoothly, one might say slowly.
- We start with a minimal pace and intensity. At first, we begin to do exercises to test the response of the body, so it makes no sense to give a large load immediately;
- If the pain appears, we immediately stop and resume training only after a long rest;
- If during the performance of some exercise, you notice a decrease in the intensity of pain, then you should repeat it more often;
- The exercise is done on inspiration and exhalation; we return to the starting position.
Warm up before a workout.
It’s almost the same as charging at school. A simple complex—from head to heels It is necessary to stretch the muscles well so that the exercises for the abdominal muscles are as effective as possible!
The first is tilting the head to the side. We put our feet shoulder-width apart and bent our knees a little. The back is straight as a string! Tilt your head to the right and left, then back and forth. You do not need to turn your head around its axis; this is fraught with pinching and discomfort.
We need joints! We make circular movements with the shoulders. Larger circle. Keep your head straight, look forward, and watch your chin! 9 times forward and nine back.
Tassels! We stretch our arms in front of us, compress our fists, and rotate them first away from us, then towards us.
Elbows! We stretch our arms in front of us, bend them at the elbows, and rotate our arms from the hand to the elbow, first towards ourselves, then away from ourselves. Elbows and shoulders are motionless.
Knees! We put our feet together, lean forward a little, and put our hands on our knees. Keep your back straight, and look forward to a brighter future! We draw circles with our knees, first clockwise, then counterclockwise.
Anterior thigh. Stand up straight with your feet together. We bend the leg at the knee and grab it by the toe. We try to press the foot of the bent leg closer to the buttock. We follow the knee of the straight leg; it should not “leave.” We pull the leg for 10 seconds and change to another!
The back of the thigh and calf. We put our foot on the heel. We put our hands in the “lock” behind the back. The body is tilted. Let’s look ahead. And we begin to pull the sock toward ourselves. We correct the slope of the body to feel the tension in the calf. We measure 10 seconds and change the leg!
And finally, the back. We put our feet together. We lean down. We put our hands on our knees and hook them into the “lock.” Soften the knees and round the back. In this position, we pull the back to the ceiling for 10 seconds until a pleasant stretch.
The workout is over! You are already young and smart. Let’s get to the main part.
Top 7 exercises to strengthen the lower back
Exercise 1. Tilts of the pelvis from a prone position
We lay down on our backs. We put our feet on the floor and pull them closer to the buttocks, about the hips’ width. Hands along the body, look up. Exhalation. And slowly and carefully raise the lower back and hips until a straight line is formed. We linger in this position for 5–10 seconds and slowly lower ourselves to the floor. Inhale. We perform 5–10 repetitions.
Exercise 2. Bridge in reverse.
We lay down on our stomachs. Stretch your arms forward with your legs slightly bent at the knees. We exhale. Then we begin to raise our arms and legs simultaneously. We linger for 5–10 seconds. Then we also calmly return to the lying position. We perform 5–10 repetitions.
Exercise 3. Twisting the pelvis up
We lay down on our backs. We put our feet on our feet. We exhale and strain the hips and lower back until a small gap appears between the floor and the lower back. Inhale and return to the lying position. We perform 15-20 repetitions.
Exercise 4. Alternate stretching of arms and legs.
We get on all fours. We put our hands shoulder-width apart, resting our hands on the floor. Look straight down; keep your neck relaxed. We exhale. At the same time, stretch the right arm forward and the left leg back. We return to the original all-fours position and inhale. Change the position of the arms and legs. Perform 10–15 repetitions on each side.
Exercise 5. Lunges
We stand straight with our feet shoulder-width apart. We put the right leg forward and bend at the knee at an angle of 90 degrees; the thigh is parallel to the floor. The back is even; the deflection in the lower back is prohibited. Hands along the body. And in this position, we linger for 10-15 seconds. We return to the rack and change the leg. For each leg, do 10–12 repetitions.
Starting position: we emphasize lying down, connecting the legs, and placing the brushes under the shoulders. We twist the pelvis a little to eliminate the lumbar deflection. We strain the press and the muscles of the buttocks. We look directly at the floor. The whole body should be in one line, from the crown to the feet.
Start in the plank position for 10 seconds and gradually build up to 30 seconds. We perform 2-4 sets with a break of 30 seconds.
If you are afraid to stand in the classic version of the plank, the exercise can be simplified. To do this, we spread the feet shoulder-width apart. If it is still difficult to do a plank and keep the weight of your body on your hands and toes, then change the points of support and kneel.
Hold this position for 10 seconds, then slowly lower yourself to the floor. We turn to the other side and repeat the exercise. To evenly load and strengthen the muscles of the right and left parts of the body, all side planks should be on both sides an equal number of times.
Planking is a difficult exercise! Please take care of your well-being and do not overload! It’s better to underdo it than overdo it!
How often can you do lower back exercises?
Gymnastics for the spine can be performed 2-3 times a week. Alternate them with cardio, strength training, dancing, yoga, and Pilates ernate them with cardio, strength training, dancing, yoga, and Pilates. If you follow your posture, normalize your weight, and stop lifting heavy bags, half the success is already in your pocket. Here are a few more hacks:
- Change the bag to a backpack with an orthopedic back,
- and go to the store with a bag on wheels (no, this is not a disgrace!).
- Pick up objects from the floor from a squat, not from a bend.