Low Back Strengthening Exercises

Often times, patients come into our office with severe low back pain caused by a disc herniation or muscle strain. Each vertebrae in the spine is supported by an intervertebral disc which serves to cushion from any form of stress or strain. The disc consists of an outer layer (the annulus fibrosus) which wraps around an inner jelly-like substance (the nucleus pulposus). The nucleus pulposus serves as a shock absorber from the body’s daily activities while keeping the vertebrae separated.  However, this jelly substance may be forced out of the fibrocartilage layer and could apply pressure on a nerve, which will cause pain.

One of the best ways to prevent low back pain or a disc herniation is to help stabilize the muscle core. Often times, low back pain is experienced because the muscles in the back are over compensating for the abdominal muscles. Strengthening the abdominals and obliques can help stabilize the core which will support the low back.

Here are some exercises for you to help strengthen the core. If you happen to experience any form of pain from any of these exercises, stop and be sure to consult a medical professional.

1)      Plank:

The plank is a great exercise to help build endurance in both the abs and the back ,as well as building strength for pushups.
a.       Lie face down on the mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor
b.      Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows
c.       Keep your back flat in a straight line from head to heels. If you experience shaking or moving, be sure to stop and relax before repeating the plank form.
d.      Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up or sagging in the middle
e.      Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.


2)   Side Plank

a.       Lay on one side on the mat.

b.      Place forearm on mat under the shoulder perpendicular to the body.

c.       Place the upper leg directly on top of the lower leg and straighten the knees and hips.

d.      Raise the body upwards by straightening out the waist so the body is ridged.

e.      Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

f.        If you like to be challenged, you can make dips with the arm or the pelvis while in the side plank position to help strengthen the oblique.

3)   Bird Dog:

a.       Keel on the floor with hands firmly placed about shoulder width apart

b.      First practice lifting one hand and the opposite knee off the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee.

c.       When ready, extend both the arm and opposite leg out to the front and the rear.

d.      After extension, go back to go into a table top position on all fours, take one arm and touch to the knee and go forward and extend and back. Do 10 reps of those. Holding in the nice position.  Repeat with the opposite side.


4)   Superman:

a.       Lay flat on your stomach with arms straight out in front of you and your legs straight out behind you. Keep your arms and legs shoulder-width apart.

b.      Lift your legs and arms simultaneously for at least 6 inches off the ground. Keep each movement slow and controlled to prevent pulling muscles

c.       For Lay down on your stomach and do a superman. Come up and raise both your arms and legs. Do 10 reps and you can make cross motions with the opposite leg