If you've spent any time around a gym, you've probably heard about the importance of strengthening your core. Regularly performing lower back and hip exercises is a key part of staying in shape and preventing injuries. The following techniques can help you target these important muscles.
Benefits of Lower Back and Hip Exercises
Feeling stronger in your core muscles is nice, but several other important benefits may result from performing regular back and hip strengthening exercises. According to a small study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy in February 2013, keeping your hip muscles strong may help prevent poor movement patterns and stiffness from developing at the joint.
An October 2018 systematic review in the Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice also found that hip strengthening exercises may help reduce knee-cap area pain. To add to this, the Mayo Clinic reports that keeping your core muscles (in your lower back, abdomen and hips) strong can help in several other ways.
Targeting these muscles may improve your overall stability and balance by teaching the different regions to work in tandem with one another. Lower back and hip exercises can also make more physical tasks like lifting, running or bending easier.
Read more: Stuart McGill's Big Three Back Exercises
Over time, activating your core regularly may help you prevent low back pain in the first place. An October 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis in the Journal of Epidemiology indicates that regular strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercises may lower the likelihood of getting back symptoms.
Consistent lower back and core workouts can help prevent injury and improve the strength and stability in your hip joints.
Act Like Superman
The superman exercise makes a valuable addition to any of your lower back and core workouts. As stated by the Cleveland Clinic, this compound movement is a nice way to target many of the smaller muscles (like the multifidi or erector spinae) that run along each side of your spine and protect your lower back.
- Lie on your stomach with your forehead resting on a small towel roll and your arms extended over your head.
- Slowly lift both arms and both legs off the ground simultaneously as though you are flying in the air.
- Hold this position for five seconds before lowering your arms and legs to the ground. Repeat the exercise 10 times in a row each day.
- If the exercise gets easy, you can progress it by maintaining the pose for a longer amount of time or by holding light weights (1 to 2 pounds) in each hand as you perform it.
Make a Bridge
If you are looking to incorporate some back- and hip-strengthening exercises into your workout, the bridge technique is a good option. As described by the Mayo Clinic, this convenient exercise (which can be easily done at home or in the gym) is a great way to target your glutes and low back muscles.
- Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet resting on the ground.
- Without holding your breath, lightly squeeze your stomach muscles.
- Keeping your abs contracted, lift your butt and low back into the air until your shoulders, spine and knees are in a straight line with one another.
- Take three deep breaths before lowering back down again. Complete five repetitions.
- As the bridge gets less challenging, try to gradually increase the number of repetitions you complete to 30. You can also try to lift only one leg instead of two.
Read more: Lower Back Exercises in the Pool
Try Some Leg Lifts
Another one of the easy lower back and hip exercises is the side-lying leg lift. This beginner exercise isolates the gluteus medius, a fan-shaped hip muscle that sits on the outside or lateral portion of your hip.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, incorporating leg lifts and other similar movements into your lower back and core workouts can help strengthen and stabilize your hip. It may also help prevent injuries from developing in this region.
- Lie on your side with your bottom knee bent and your top leg kept straight.
- Squeeze your stomach muscles and slowly lift the top leg in the air as high as you can. Do not allow your body to rock forward or backward as you do this.
- Hold the leg here for a brief moment before lowering it back down again.
- Do between eight and 12 repetitions at a time and try to complete the exercise three times per
week. A small cuff weight can be added to the end of your leg to increase the
Read more: Lower Back Decompression Exercises
- Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy: “Strengthening Your Hip Muscles”
- Mayo Clinic: “Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Got Back Pain? Try Doing Superman and 3 More Exercises”
- Mayo Clinic: "Back Exercises"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Hip Conditioning Program”
- Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice: “Systematic Review of the Addition of Hip Strengthening Exercises for Adults With Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome”
- Journal of Epidemiology: “Exercise for the Prevention of Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials”