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Back Pain Center

The Best Lower Back Exercises at Home

by
author image James Neel
James Neel is a writer, entrepreneur, fitness enthusiast and certified personal trainer. He has worked in the fitness industry for many years and has a passion for sharing his knowledge with others. His college education consists of degrees in business and kinesiology.
The Best Lower Back Exercises at Home
Stretch it out after your at-home back workout. Photo Credit DGLimages/iStock/Getty Images

Home workouts can be fun if you know how to improvise, but it can be challenging to isolate specific muscles unless you have a detailed knowledge of anatomy. The lower back muscles are used in some common exercises, like the deadlift, but you need more specialized exercises to isolate them.

Having stronger lower back muscles protects your spine from injury and will carry over into full-body movements like the squat and deadlift that require lower back strength.

Read more: How to Build Lower Back Muscles

Lower Back Muscles

The lower back muscles allow you to extend and rotate your spine. Extending your spine is the same thing as arching it, which is the opposite motion of rounding your back. This means that your lower back muscles are working when you arch your back, like you would in a superman exercise, or when you're preventing your back from rounding, like you do in a deadlift.

Anatomy

The lower back muscles that do most of the work to extend the spine are the erector spinae and multifidi. The erector spinae is made up of three muscles, but only two of them help extend the lower back: the longissimus and illiocostalis.

The multifidi lie below the erector spinae and span from the bottom of the spine all the way up to the top. When you perform a lower back exercise you should feel these muscles along the sides of your spine working.

It's important to strengthen the multifidi if you want to avoid lower back pain or if you already are suffering from it. According to a 2008 study00131-7/abstract) published in Manual Therapy, people with lower back pain have smaller and weaker multifidi.

Equipment

At-home workouts are usually limited in terms of equipment and space. As long as you have enough room to lie down, these exercises will work. The only equipment you'll need is something soft to lay on while you do the supermans and prone back extensions. For the deadlifts, you'll want something light to pick up. It can be a heavy box, water jug, or even a grocery bag filled with groceries.

1. Prone Back Extension

Your lower back muscles pull your upper body off of the ground in this body weight exercise.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on the ground on your stomach with your legs straight. Raise your head, shoulders, and chest off of the mat. Pause for one second and then lay back down on the mat.

Read more: McKenzie Exercises for Back Pain

2. Alternating Superman

This cross-body exercise makes your lower back work by extending and rotating at the same time.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on the ground on your stomach with your legs straight and arms overhead. Raise your right arm and left leg into the air. Lower them down and raise your left arm and right leg into the air.

3. Deadlift

Use a light weight and higher reps -- around 15 -- to work your muscles while minimizing risk for injury.

HOW TO DO IT: Put an object on the floor that you can comfortably grasp with two hands. Stick your butt back and lower yourself until you can grab the object. Stand up while holding the object. Keep your arms straight. Then lower it back to the ground.

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