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Strengthing the lower back

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  • Strengthing the lower back

    I've had lower back pain for years now. It comes out when I start putting a bit of stress on it. I feel like strengthing my back will be the foundation of other exercises so I want to get it healed and/or strengthened. Could someone give me some ideas on stretches and exercises that will help strengthen or heal the lower back or the whole back in general?

    Thank you

  • #2
    Re: Strengthing the lower back

    4 main core lifts:

    Bench
    Shoulder Press
    Squats
    Deadlifts

    Stengthening your lower back is about strengthing your core. Most back pain that does not stem from injury usually occurs with weak core muscles (hamstrings, abs, hip flexors) or a muscular imbalance between these.

    Focus on lifts that work multiple muscle groups such as the four above to give you a good base in all areas. These will engage your core as well. Most "ab" exercises hit the abs and hip flexors some more than others so change it up.

    Good mornings, Straight leg dead lifts, lunges, overhead squats, flutter kicks, super mans, planks


    The most important thing it to focus on FORM. Start slowly and learn it right.


    Also consult with your doctor before beginning, because all this will cause stress and could possibly aggravate the existing injury regardless of doing it right or wrong.
    Last edited by nickdich; 03-09-2012, 11:58 AM. Reason: spelling

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    • #3
      Re: Strengthing the lower back

      Originally posted by nickdich View Post
      The most important thing it to focus on FORM. Start slowly and learn it right.
      He's right this is the most important part. If you're unfamiliar with a lift, have someone who is experienced with it teach it to you. Look up videos on how to do it properly, and then when you do them make try to have someone watch your form. You want to make sure you have good spinal alignment so you're not putting any shear forces on discs.

      You especially need to watch this with the deadlift and squat.

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      • #4
        Re: Strengthing the lower back

        Originally posted by koldfyer View Post
        He's right this is the most important part. If you're unfamiliar with a lift, have someone who is experienced with it teach it to you. Look up videos on how to do it properly, and then when you do them make try to have someone watch your form. You want to make sure you have good spinal alignment so you're not putting any shear forces on discs.

        You especially need to watch this with the deadlift and squat.
        x100 I'm dealing with the after effects of a) not so great form on deadlifts and b) using the Smithson machine as a squat rack. It does not provide for you to have a natural range of motion. Did that last month and still dealing with it. Back pain is not something to take lightly.

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        • #5
          Re: Strengthing the lower back

          On squats really focus on depth. You don't engage the glutes and the hamstrings as much when you do a quarter/half squat (what 90% of people who do squats in the gym do).

          While you'll see some benefits doing it this way, it will lead to a muscle imbalance. Your quads will overpower your hamstrings and glutes and leave you at a greater risk for hamstring tears - this also won't help your back either.


          On the deadlift. It's really important to not thing of this as a "back" exercise. It's a full body exercise. Think of more of a LEG exercise. You won't feel it as much in your legs as a squat, but you lift with your legs and not your back. It's important to drive your heels down to the ground and to make sure your back is not bent or else you'll probably do more harm then good. Make sure you carry this over to any time you are picking something up with weight. Do not lean over to pick it up. lower your body and pick it up properly. At the lockout phase avoid over-extending your back. Once your body and spine are in alignment the lift is complete. Hold it for almost a second and slowly resume down. Do not bounce the weight off the floor either. It's called a deadlift for a reason. Start dead. This also gives you a window to reset your hands or form if needed.


          Standing shoulder press, push press, or a jerk variant it's important to have good alignment and to not hyperextend your back when locking it out. THe same goes for the bench too. It's important not to arch your back up and to keep it flat and aligned on the bench.


          Don't let all this ^ scare you away. These are great lifts with great benefits. It will take a long time to learn how to do properly, but it's worth it.

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          • #6
            Re: Strengthing the lower back

            Wow. Thank you for the detail of your explanations. I will take it all in and learn how to do it properly.

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            • #7
              Re: Strengthing the lower back

              Originally posted by nickdich View Post
              4 main core lifts:

              Bench
              Shoulder Press
              Squats
              Deadlifts
              These are definitely 4 lifts you should be doing but I wouldn't count on benchpress and shoulder press helping out your core or lower back much.
              Squats and Deadlifts are great, but as mentioned before make sure you use perfect form. Don't round your back on these lifts.

              To really strengthen your core I suggest you do research on gymnastics exercises. Front levers, Back levers, planches, L-sits all require a lot of core strength. You won't start out doing these like gymnasts but there are progressions to get you to the real thing. Personally these have helped strengthen my core a lot so I would check them out.
              My Training Blog - http://jag5543.blogspot.com/

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              • #8
                Re: Strengthing the lower back

                As for strecthing, research dynamic stretching and begin your workout with that. At the end do traditional stretching on all your muscle groups for about 5-10 minutes. This is probably the most tedious part of the workout, but really beneficial in the long run.

                A few of my favorites:

                Hamstring: stand with your feet together. Take 1 step out with your right foot. Bend over and down and try to touch the ground on the right foot. The key to this strectch is making sure your knees are straight and not bend. Repeat on the left side. Hold for at least 10 seconds.

                Hip Flexor: Deep and wide lunge keep your back straight up and head facing forward.

                Abs/lower back: Google the cobra/upward dog yoga position. Very good stretch.


                Building up your flexibility will make going through the full range of motion in these exercises much easier.


                Don't forget to check out the holy bible (Physical Training Guide) and the Injury prevention guide on the front site.

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                • #9
                  Re: Strengthing the lower back

                  I wouldn't quite count benchpress as one of the main lifts unless you also count bent over row as one as well. But beyond that, your legs and arms are your engines, your core is your transmission... it's what lets you put the power down, so to speak.

                  Your abs stabilize your spinal region, and the spine is pretty freagin important last time I checked. Most low back pain is from weak core, and after a good core workout I'm always hard pressed to have ANY back pain. You will find that standing strict press, push press, push jerks, and split jerks all require you to have epicly perfect posture or else you'll be feeling your smoked lower back afterwards... I can attest to that right this very minute! (crossfit 12.3 anybody? 5 rounds + 17 more reps =P)

                  Anyways... if you knock out a king's ransom worth of squats, your low back WILL be tired as hell. If you knock out even a reasonable about of deadlifts, your low back WILL be tired as hell. And if you knock out olympic lifts, your low back will be tired as hell... but in all of those cases it will be stronger. Now if you do any of those lifts and your round your lower back, your lower back will be SMOKED... and I'm not talking "feel the burn, bro i'm so freagin' pumped right now the ladies love it!!!" I'm talking can't get up to take a dump - smoked!

                  So... recap. Hit core, not just crunches... CORE! Planks, side planks, Power Lifts (include: squats, deadlifts, over head presses), and possibly olympic lifts (clean & jerk, snatch, and their variations). Assuming you're even asking about this, I wouldn't recommend olympic lifts without a coach... epic amounts of technique required. A strong core allows you to use your strong legs and strong arms to move your whole body, so if you do those exercises right you will link your engines up to your transmission. Once you hit all that and you feel you still need more core, THEN hit abs on the way out... otherwise the PST prep from the PTG should do you right. I'm basically just agreeing with Nick this whole time but.... I hope that helped in some way. GL.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Strengthing the lower back

                    What my physical trainer has me doing to strengthen my back is planks and bird dogs. I have suspect back as it is, so it's crucial for me to complete these on a daily basis. I do front planks 10 times for 10 seconds each. Then I do side planks for 10 times 10 seconds each. Of course when doing side planks do both sides. And lastly I do bird dogs. 10 times each side for 10 second holds.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Strengthing the lower back

                      Originally posted by nickdich View Post
                      4 main core lifts:

                      Bench
                      Shoulder Press
                      Squats
                      Deadlifts
                      You forgot about your upper back. Either pullups or Bent Over rows.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Strengthing the lower back

                        My recommendations: (In addition to practicing the ones you'll do at BUD/S)
                        Exercises: Wheel
                        Stretches: Cat stretch

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Strengthing the lower back

                          I know this site is geared for the younger audience to learn more about the general navy and seal requirements, but come on spex at least read the entire FIRST entry before randomly trying to correct someone. The original poster (OP) requested lower back strengthening exercise... how would him forgetting to target his upper back have any relation to his lower back? Also, I don't think pull-ups sufficiently work the upper back as much as they work the biceps and lats. The OP has chronic low back pain, after I assume he has implemented some of these lower back strengthening exercises. That leads me to believe that either A) he's cured, or B) he's not (and IF he's not then strengthening his lower back didn't help)

                          If he's not, the problem was probably lumber hyper extension, most probably caused by tight hip flexors from sitting down (hey we all have to learn), from running or biking a lot, and from lack of stretching. The spine should be straight, when it curves, the body tightens muscles so it creates stability where there should have already been stability naturally from good positioning. Sources: NASM, MobilityWOD, Anatomy Trains, Yoga

                          Recap: Just because your low back hurts doesn't mean it needs strength. If I try to run on my face and it hurts, do I strengthen my face... or do I correct my running technique? Food for thought.

                          Programming Recommendation: Stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps, then do planks and other iso-metric (holding still) core exercises. You can additionally do the Bird Dog, Superman, and Bridge exercises (and maybe wipers, not sure) in the iso-metric format by holding it as a pose for 30 seconds to a minute (or longer... 18 days?).

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                          • #14
                            Re: Strengthing the lower back

                            I do yoga to keep my back loose from all the running and lifting. Works wonders.

                            You'll find that the seemingly awkward postures hit a lot of the supporting and stabilizing muscles that you don't usually work.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Strengthing the lower back

                              Originally posted by ham30 View Post
                              I do yoga to keep my back loose from all the running and lifting. Works wonders.

                              You'll find that the seemingly awkward postures hit a lot of the supporting and stabilizing muscles that you don't usually work.
                              I agree with this 100%. I was in physical therapy for a while for my back and made very little to no real progress. When I was discharged from therapy I started to yoga and it works amazingly well. It's a long term deal though. The first couple sessions didn't immediately cure my pain. But now that I've been doing it for two months, I have almost no pain at all. Give it a shot and really strive to achieve perfect posture, position control, and well regulated breathing.

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