Regular exercise that strengthens the lower back can help minimize back pain that can occur as a result of strenuous activity or the natural aging process. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that as people get older, bone density and muscle flexibility tend to decrease, resulting in weaker bones and less cushioning for the spine. Injuries can also occur through exercise or heavy lifting, poor physical condition, pregnancy, stress and poor posture. The NIH recommends that anyone starting an exercise program for back pain consult a doctor to ensure that the pain isn’t the result of a serious problem.
While kneeling on all fours in the crawling position, drop your head down while at the same time pulling your hips toward your chest. Try to create a curve, with your back toward the ceiling. Doctors at the University of Michigan recommend holding the arch for five seconds and repeating the exercise 10 times.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie on your back with a pillow or towel supporting your lower back. Bend one leg until the knee is pointing to the ceiling. Hold your thigh with both hands and straighten the bent leg, moving the foot towards the ceiling. The University of Michigan recommend holding the stretch for 30 seconds and repeating the stretch twice with each leg.
Lie on your back with knees bent at about a 45-degree angle. Contract your abdominal muscles and push your lower back towards the floor. University of Michigan physicians recommend holding the contraction for five seconds and performing two sets of 10 repetitions.
This exercise is performed from the same kneeling position as the cat stretch, with hands on the floor, and is performed by raising the head and hips while allowing the stomach to drop towards the floor. Like the cat stretch, it is recommended that this position be held for five seconds and done for 10 repetitions.
Lie on your back with knees bent at a 45-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. Contract the abdominal muscles and press the small of your back against the floor. With your chin tucked to your chest and arms straight in front, curl your upper body and lift your shoulders off the floor. The Michigan doctors recommend holding the contraction for three seconds and repeat this exercise 10 times. A more challenging variation of this exercise is performed with the hands clasped behind your head and elbows straight out to the side.