Based on research by the Centers for Disease Control and many other studies, the leading cause of disability in the US is low back pain.
If we go beyond the statistics and into reality of why you never want to have acute or chronic back problems, the answer is 'pain.'
If you have ever had your low back 'go out' on your then you should have enough motivation to take the necessary steps to prevent it from occurring again. If you have never had your low back really 'go out' on you, then consider yourself very lucky and decide that right now is the time to take the steps to avoid it.
Now, while in this article I am focusing on strengthening the low back, stretching is of course a super important part of good back health.
For the sake of simplicity, I have narrowed it down to just four important low back strengthening exercises.
Most experts agree that one of the best ways to stabilize the low back is by strengthening the front in addition to the back muscles. When you do any exercise that involves the use of your muscles in your back and in your front in a coordinated fashion, it is considered a core exercise. So for all practical purposes, when you are working to strengthen the front and back of your trunk, you are in effect strengthening your core.
Check out these four exercises below and get on the road to your healthier core. You can do these at the fitness center, home or even at work. None of these exercises require weights or specialized exercise equipment.
This exercise is definitely a standard in the world of core strengthening. To do this important exercise, lie down in a supine (on your back) position and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
With you low back relaxed so that it is not flatted and not arched, contract your abs but avoid tilting your hips. Elevate your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from knees to head. Hold the position for a minimum of 10 seconds and as long as 30 seconds if you are capable. Now lower back to the floor slowly. Repeat this 15 more times.
Knee Rotation (Bilateral)
Lie on the floor or a mat in a supine position. Place your arms out to the side. Bring both hips and knees each to an angle of ninety degrees. Your shins should be parallel to the mat or floor. Tighten the abdominal muscles and then slowly rotate your legs and torso to the right all the way down to the floor. Now bring the knees back towards the center and continue all the way over to the left side. Repeat this for 20 repetitions (so 10 to each side).
Single Leg Raises
Lie onto your back. Bend your right leg so the foot is on the floor while keeping the left leg straight. Tighten your abs, and slowly lift the extended leg off the floor about 10 inches. Hold this for 5 to 10 seconds and then lower the leg slowly. Repeat this while lifting the opposition leg. Repeat 15 times for each leg.
Cross Crawl on All Fours
Get on your hands and knees with your hands about shoulder width apart. Now contract your read and stomach muscles to create a nice tight core bridge. Elevate left leg and right arm to where they are in line with your back. Do not forget to keep the contract in the back and abdominal muscles.
Try not to let either unsupported hip or shoulder drop. Back to starting position and now raise the left arm and right leg. With each repetition, hold the raised arm and leg up for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this 15 times per side or at least work your way up to it.
With all of these exercises, remember that you can work your way up to holding it for as long or doing as many repetitions as I recommended. The key here is do not force it and end up injuring yourself.
When showing my clients how to do these exercises in my Keller chiropractic center, I always remember them that they should feel a little pull and burn as the muscles begin to fatigue. If it feels like more than that then stop and consult your local chiropractor or other provider immediately.