Spending long periods of time sitting at a desk or driving a car can cause your lower back to become rounded. Tight muscles, combined with weak abdominals, can make this rounded position become habitual, which places a significant strain on the ligaments and discs of the lower back. If uncorrected, this may lead to back pain. Regular strengthening and stretching exercises can help ease back muscles.
Floor angels can strengthen your upper and lower back to promote better posture. Lie on your front on an exercise mat with your legs and arms extended. Place your palms face-down and rest your forehead on the floor. Lift your chest, shoulders, arms and head about 6 inches off the floor. Keep your feet in contact with the floor at all times. Keeping your upper body still, sweep your arms out and down to your sides until your hands touch the outside of your thighs. Return your arms to the starting position and repeat. Aim for 12 to repetitions per set.
Perform this exercise to strengthen your abs. Lie on your back with your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees and your arms extended above your shoulders. Inhale and tense your abdominal muscles and extend your left leg, lowering it to the floor while simultaneously reaching overhead to touch the floor behind your head with your right arm. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Perform six to 10 repetitions on each side. Do not let your lower back arch during this exercise.
This exercise strengthens your lower back muscles. Lie on your front with your arms and legs extended and your forehead resting on the floor. Lift your left arm and right leg off of the floor as far as you can without arching your back or lifting your chest. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the exercise by lifting your opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating sides until you have completed 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.
This exercise stretches your abdominals. Lie on your front with your legs extended and your hands beneath your shoulders. Push gently with your arms, then place your forearms on the floor so that your elbows are shoulders-width apart, your palms are flat on the floor and your fingers are pointing away from you. Relax and hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep looking directly forward and breathe steadily throughout this exercise.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Tight hip flexors — the muscles on the front of your hips, can cause your pelvis to tuck under, which causes your lower back to round. Stretch your hip flexors by performing this exercise. Kneel on the floor, then take a large step forward. When viewed from the side, your leading knee should be directly over your heel and your rear leg slightly extended. Keep your body upright and your hands on your front thigh. Relax and sink your hips down toward the floor. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, then change sides. As with all stretches, do not bounce or jerk as this may cause injury.
- "Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance"; Stuart McGill; 2004
- "Abdominal Training, Second Edition: A Progressive Guide to Greater Strength"; Christopher M. Norris; 2002
- "Low Back Disorders"; Stuart McGill; 2007