LOWER BACK CARE

Most cases of lower back discomfort can be prevented or alleviated through
consistent practice of core muscle conditioning along with attention to good posture (see HFT Intro for Five Posture Points) and deep breathing.

This exercise program can tremendously improve the strength, flexibility, and mobility of your lower back and core musculature. Do each exercise only in a pain-free range of motion. Listen to your body and don't overdo it. If any one of these exercises hurts, even within a smaller range of motion, don't do that one.

You may feel improvement as soon as the first session.
The whole routine can take as little as 20 minutes:

1) Four Strengthening Exercises
2) Nine Stretches
3) Two Loosening Exercises

FOR MAXIMAL EFFECTIVENESS,
PRACTICE THESE EXERCISES 3-7 DAYS PER WEEK.

STRENGTH EXERCISE #1:
Kneeling Hip and Back Extension:

-Kneel on hands and knees with hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Keep back flat like a tabletop as you extend one arm and the opposite leg. (Ex.: left arm and right leg together.)
-Reach for length from your fingers to your heel.
-Return to start position.
-Repeat on other side (right arm and left leg together).
-Alternate sides for ten repetitions each.

Kneeling BE Start

Kneeling B-E Finish
STRENGTH EXERCISE #2: Lying Hip Raise:
-Lie on your back with your arms palms down at your sides and your knees bent to 90 degrees.
-Tuck your chin slightly and lengthen the back of your neck.
-Feel length from the back of your head and all the way down your spine to the tip of your tailbone.
-Inhale and raise your hips until you feel that there's a straight line from your shoulders, through your hips, to your knees.
-Hold the top position for 1-10 seconds. If you are holding for an extended period breathe in and out as you need to.
-Exhale and lower your hips to the floor.
-Repeat 10 times.
Lying Hip Raise Start

Lying Hip Raise Finish
STRENGTH EXERCISE #3: Side Crunch:
-Lie on your back with your wrists crossed behind the base of your skul,l supporting your neck, and your knees bent to 90 degrees.
-Roll both knees toward one side, as close to the floor as you can.
-Exhale, pull your abdomen inward, and contract the oblique muscles along your side to raise your shoulders, arms, and head slightly off the floor. Keep a slight space between your chin and chest to keep your neck long.
-Inhale as you lower yourself to the floor.
-Repeat 10-20 times.
-Repeat on other side.

Side Crunch Start

Side Crunch Finish
STRENGTH EXERCISE #4: Straddle Crunch:
-Lie on your back with your wrists crossed behind the base of your head to support your neck.
-Put the soles of your feet together and spread your knees wide.
-Exhale, pull your abdomen inward, press your lower back into the floor, and contract your abdominal muscles to raise your shoulders, arms, and head slightly off the ground. Keep a slight space between your chin and chest to keep length in your neck.
-Inhale as you lower to the floor.
-Repeat 10-20 times.
Straddle Crunch Start1

Straddle Crunch Finish
STRETCHING EXERCISE #1: Modified Cobra:
-Lie face down on the floor.
-Prop yourself up on your elbows so that your elbows are directly under your shoulders.
-Tuck your chin and lengthen your neck.
-Pull your shoulderblades down and together.
-Let your breath expand into your lower abdomen and lower back.
-Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.

Modfied Cobra
STRETCHING EXERCISE #2: Lying Quad Pull:
-Lie face down on the floor with your forehead resting on one forearm and your chin tucked slightly.
-Reach back with opposite hand and grab same side ankle.
-Pull your foot in toward your buttocks.
-Breathe into the lower abdomen and imagine breath filling the front of your thigh.
-Exhale, empty out your breath, and pull in a little farther.
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds.
Lying Quad Stretch
STRETCHING EXERCISE #3: Double Knee Hug:
-Lie on your back with your chin tucked and neck long.
-Bend your knees and pull them in toward your chest.
-Wraps your arms around your shins and pull in for a deeper stretch.
-Breathe in, imagine and feel as if your breath is filling up your lower abdomen and lower back.
-Exhale, pull in farther, and relax the lower back muscles.
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds.
Double Knee Hug
STRETCHING EXERCISE #4: Single Knee Hug:
-From the Double Knee Hug, lower one leg and straighten it on the floor.
-Pull the bent leg close to your chest.
-Inhale and feel your breath expand into your lower abdomen and lower back.
-Exhale, pull in farther, and relax the muscles in your lower back and the back of your leg
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds .
Single Knee Hug
STRETCHING EXERCISE #5: Spinal Rotation:
-Lie on your back and reach one arm out, palm up, on the ground, just above shoulder height.
-Bend the knee of the reaching side, tuck your toes behind your opposite knee, and roll it over toward the floor on the opposite side of your body.
-
Hold the bent knee down with your non-reaching hand.
-Feel a straight line from the top of your head down through your toes of your straight leg.
-Inhale and feel your torso, lower back, and hips fill with air.
-Exhale and reach farther with your reaching hand.
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds.
-Repeat on opposite side.
Spinal Rotation
STRETCHING EXERCISE #6: Lying Hamstring:
-Lie on your back with your chin tucked to lengthen your neck.
-Pull one leg straight and up toward the ceiling using your exercise tubing, a belt, or a long towel wrapped around your foot.
-Keep the opposite leg straight on the ground, or slightly bent if you need to.
-Inhale and imagine your breath filling the back of your leg.
-Exhale, pull in farther, and relax the muscles on the back of your leg.
-Hold the position for 30-60 seconds.
Lying Hamstring Stretch

STRETCHING EXERCISE #7: Straddle:
A. Modified Version (Easier):
-Sit up with the soles of your feet together in front of you and your knees pressed out wide.
-Hold onto your feet with your hands and pull forward keeping your lower back straight. Feel the stretch of your inner thighs.
-Inhale and imagine your breath filling your inner thighs.
-Exhale, pull deep into the stretch, and relax your inner thighs.
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds.

B. Full Straddle (More difficult):
-Sit up with your legs straight and your feet spread wide.
-Reach forward with your hands on the ground, keeping your back straight and your spine extended.
-Inhale and imagine air filling your inner thighs.
-Exhale, reach farther into the stretch, and relax your inner thighs.
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds.

Modified Straddle Stretch

Straddle Stretch
STRETCHING EXERCISE #8: Cross-Leg:
-Sit in a chair with one foot across your opposite knee so that your ankle joint is outside your thigh.
-Keep your back straight and lean forward.
-Press your forearms down on your crossed leg to increase the stretch.
-Inhale and imagine air filling up the outside and underside of your hip on the crossed leg.
-Exhale, lean forward farther, and relax your hip.
-Hold position for 30-60 seconds.
Seated Cross-Leg Stretch
STRETCHING EXERCISE #9: Side Stretch:
-Put your weight onto one leg and reach same side arm overhead.
-Grab wrist of reaching hand and put unweighted leg in front of weighted leg for balance.
- Push hip of weighted leg to side and lean to stretch that side.
-Inhale and feel air filling the muscles on the side of your torso.
-Exhale, reach farther, and relax the muscles along your side.
-Hold for 10-30 seconds.
-Repeat on opposite side.

Standing Side Stretch
LOOSENING EXERCISE #1: Lateral Flexion:
-Sit on top of a FitBall with your feet parallel and flat on the floor in front of you. Rest your hands on your thighs.
-Imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling your spine gently upright.
-Roll your hips from one side to the other in a slow, continuous motion.
-Continue side to side motion for 30-60 seconds.

Lateral Flexion Start Lateral Flexion Right Lateral Flexion Left
LOOSENING EXERCISE #2: Hip Circles:
-Stand with your feet parallel and hip wide.
-Place your hands on your hips.
-Circle your hips clockwise without moving your feet or your shoulders. Relax your hips, abdomen, and lower back.
-Continue to circle your hips for 30 seconds.
-Reverse direction. Circle your hips counter-clockwise for 30 seconds.
-When you are finished, shake out your arms and your legs.
Hip Circles Back RightHip Circles Back Left

Hip Circles Front LeftHip Circles Front Right
Keep Track of Your Practice with the DAILY PRACTICE LOG or the HFT WORKOUT LOG
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