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It seems there are a ton of easy ab exercises, but very few for the lower back to keep the muscles balanced as your abs get stronger. What are simple home exercises for the lower back?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Try rolling over onto your stomach and doing a "superman". You can hold tension in the position, or do reps similar to doing "reverse situps".

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Also, you might think about doing slow squats or wall sits where you focus on contracting both your abs and lower back. Tense up so as to make the line between anus and belly-button as short as possible during this exercise - maybe you can replace your ab work at the same time!

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@KronoS The photos on both answers were a good idea and definitely add to their overall quality. –  Greg Mar 5 '11 at 19:52
    
Am I the only one who finds this really uncomfortable on my.. male parts? :) –  VPeric Jan 14 '12 at 11:12

From yoga: spinal flexion and cat-cow. Very simple exercises and quite effective.

The Cat-Cow looks like this:

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Can you give some details on how to engage the muscles in the lower back with this? I've done this stretch before and never thought of it as an exercise. Though I've found for other exercises I only need to think about the muscles in the right way to properly engage them. –  Rob Mosher Mar 6 '11 at 17:40
    
Hm. I have always "felt" them during both of these exercises and I felt those muscles sore the day after. Maybe part of it was holding an isometric contraction at the end of the exercise. Anyway, you are right, it's very important to think/visualize what you are trying to exercise. For both of these exercises, you want to make sure the movement is initiated from the torso/back and try keep everything else as still as possible. Hope that makes sense. –  Alex Florescu Mar 6 '11 at 21:30

4 exercises I was given by an osteopath when I had fairly chronic muscular lower back pain were all leg related:

  • Lie on your back, hold each leg to the ceiling in turn and hold for 30 seconds
  • Pull a knee towards your face and hold for 30 seconds, for each leg
  • Stretch each leg against a chair seat,while standing up, as if doing a warm up for running. Hold for 30 seconds
  • Pull each knee as far as possible to the opposing shoulder and hold for 30 seconds

Another exercise involves using the elbow to massage the back, with a fair amount of pressure - obviously you'll need a partner/friend/willing house mate to do it though, and it hurts.

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-1 BMI is both unrelated to the question and not a valid criteria for measuring fitness. Further, directing someone to lose "stomach flab" perpetuates the myth of spot-reduction. (The osteopath-recommended exercises alone are a fine answer.) –  Dave Liepmann Oct 17 '11 at 14:20
    
@dave you're right, I've updated –  Chris S Oct 17 '11 at 15:59
    
-1 removed. +1 because I hope to emulate your attitude towards feedback. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 17 '11 at 16:06

Now that I'm thinking about this I realized I have a solution. But it is pretty makeshift, but it might work for someone.

I have a stable stool that I can raise to 25". If I hook my legs under a counter or very heavy table (it needs to be very steady), and place my hips on the stool I can do back raises with a makeshift Roman Chair. Kind of like this.

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The disadvantages are:

  • It's pretty uncomfortable on my hips, though my stool is padded, and on my ankles.
  • It's hard to find a good stable place to hook my legs. My table isn't heavy enough. I've found opening the door to low cupboards and hooking my legs under the counter works best, but these tend to only be available in cramped spaces. But my desk has enough junk in it to work, but is the most uncomfortable on my legs.
  • At 6' I can't get full range of motion, as my forehead hits the floor at about 45°.
  • I would guess most don't have a stool as stable as mine. It has a pretty low and wide three leg base.
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For me, this is the best, but you can't do in home. –  JoaquinG Mar 11 '11 at 9:26

Whole body exercises like deadlifts and squats - with good form!

(Swimming is good, but it takes a while to see the effects.)

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I'd also recommend doing a high rep sets of Good Mornings with no weight for extra lower back work around the house. Good mornings hit both the lower back and glutes/hamstrings. Everything back in that region of your body is connected very tightly so good glutes/hamstrings are just as important to lower back strength and stability as your lower back muscles are.

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The Bird Dog is a good exercise. Also a single-leg deadlift can be a great good exercise for strengthening the back if you have some dumbbells or suitable items to use as weight around.

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