How to Strengthen Lower Back Pain

About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

Don't be tied up in knots! Reduce back pain with exercises that will strengthen your back.
Don't be tied up in knots! Reduce back pain with exercises that will strengthen your back. | Source

Banish Back Pain for Good

If you're in your 30s to 40s and experiencing lower back pain for the first time, you're not alone! As you age, it becomes more common. However, you don't have to become a statistic and resort to constant doctor appointments, pain killers, or canes. For goodness sakes, you are still young! And, if you've been striving to reach your fitness goals, you don't have to give them up either.

Many of you have probably never given much thought to your back. You may have been an athlete your entire life, played college basketball or volleyball, and even picked up recreational activities along the way such as hiking, rock climbing, and kickboxing. So, what gives now?

All it takes is suffering one blow. Turning the wrong way while biking or even carrying too heavy of a grocery load on one arm can do a number on your back. When that happens, you feel like your life stops as it doesn't matter whether you lie down, stand up, walk, or crawl. You are going to hurt.

Disability for back pain is so common that it is second to the common cold when it comes to taking time off from work. According to the National Athletics Trainers Association, Americans spend more than $24 billion treating back pain each year.

The good news is that you cannot only avoid, but also treat, back pain in the gym. You just have to have the right approach. So, we're going to go over a few basics below to learn how to strengthen lower back pain. Also, you'll be given a back pain workout that will provide you with some relief. Not only will you reduce back pain, but you will finally overcome it. You just need to be consistent.

Pilates for back pain relief can be an excellent source.
Pilates for back pain relief can be an excellent source. | Source

Back Pain Prevention Is Important

Even if you don't have back pain (yet), you could be exercising in ways that can lead to muscular imbalances that lead to back problems down the road. Below are a few examples:

  • Doing mini crunches to strengthen your core is a great exercise. However, mini crunches do not target the deeper abdominal muscles called 'transverse abdominis,' which plays a tremendous role in spinal stability.
  • Using dumbbells, barbells, and other weight resistance equipment in the gym is great for strengthening muscles. However, if you use weights that are too heavy, you may create problems for your back as you substitute the targeted muscles with your back and hamstrings to lift those weights. This risks injury.
  • Being eager to workout intensely is great. However, jumping into any heavy-duty workout without a proper warmup risks injury. Your core body temperature hasn't risen enough to prepare for those heavy moves. Therefore, it's always wise to start off with a good warmup exercise such as walking or jogging briskly for five to 10 minutes and then doing some mobility moves such as cat-camels (arching and rounding your back for 10 to 15 seconds each several times).

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Permission From Your Back Pain Doctor Is a Must

Even though studies have proven that back pain is worse for those who are complacent than those who are active, it's always best to be on the safe side, Check with your chiropractor or back pain doctor before starting or continuing on any exercise program. Your doctor will know the best treatment route for you as he'll know what type of injury you have. So, make sure you receive permission before continuing.

Once you have an okay from your doctor, you may want to keep your cardiovascular strength up with switching from running on a treadmill to climbing on an elliptical. Just make sure you invest in a good pair of shoes that absorbs impact.

Superman Exercise

Bird Dog Exercise

Cat Camel Exercise

Back Pain Workout is Essential for Strength

No matter how bad the pain, sometimes you know you must keep moving. After all, you have to keep a living by going to work. Your toddlers may even keep you busy playing with them. And, for goodness sakes, you do have to eat! The grocery shopping cannot tolerate a back excuse.

Therefore, you will want to add some core strengthening exercises to your workout routine. Exercises like the following should strengthen your back. Many of these moves are a form of pilates, and pilates for back pain relief is the best option for many who suffer.

  • Superman
  • Bird Dog
  • Cat Camel
  • Back Extensions (including those with a stability ball)

Anything pertaining to functional fitness will help as well. Functional training is a classification of exercises that help you with normal performance or functions of your daily life. Therefore, you may want to rotate your exercises rather than sticking to one. By doing this, your entire body will be strengthened for daily activities. If you enjoy kickboxing, switch it up with Pilates. If you enjoy weightlifting, you can rotate it with other activities like swimming, hiking, or playing basketball. Variety is the key!

Good Posture Will Keep You Balanced

If you've ever been to a festival, wedding, or church revival in a big white tent, you can then envision how your back and muscles work together. Think of your spine as the center pole that keeps the tent up. Your muscles are like the guy wires and stakes that keep the pole upright in each direction. Following are some of those muscles:

  • Your core muscles are made up of transverse abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques.
  • The psoas muscles connect the upper torso with the pelvis and located on the lower side of the back.
  • Major back muscles called the erector spinae and lattissimus dorsi keep the spine upright and mobile.
  • Even your glutes play a role in a healthy back. That's right! I'm talking about your butt.

What do you think would happen if you pulled out a few stakes of that big white tent? That's right. It would beging sagging. A similar thing would happen with your back when you start suffering imbalances. Poor posture doesn't allow your body to actively engage your muscles while you go through daily living. So, make sure you plant both feet on the ground while sitting or standing, and relax your shoulders away from your ears to keep a healthy back.

Back pain relief exercises can also be stretches.
Back pain relief exercises can also be stretches. | Source

Summary

No matter how bad it can be, just know that you can reduce or eliminate back pain with the correct treatment. Whether it's a few stretching exercises, weight training, or pilates for back pain relief, exercise is key in strengthening and balancing the muscles. To summarize, four things you need to remember are:

  1. Back pain prevention is important.
  2. Permission from your back pain doctor is a must.
  3. Back pain workout is essential for strength.
  4. Good posture will keep you balanced.

Never give up! Where there is a will, there is a way!

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Professional Fitness & Sports Nutritionist, Certified Trainer, and Author of "One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan"
Professional Fitness & Sports Nutritionist, Certified Trainer, and Author of "One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan" | Source

About the author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.

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18 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Hi Abby, thank you for these suggestions on eliminating back pain. I'm past 60 and still holding out, thank God. I'm sure I'll remember this article if I need to. Voted Up and Useful!


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

This was a helpful read. I've had a bad back for a while, so I tend to take care of it these days the best I could. Good to know about these exercises!


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Hi Ms. Dora. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Sixty is still young, thank God! LOL.


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Hi epbooks. It's not fun having backaches, is it? I had suffered from chronic back pain for over a year, and I hope I never have that dreadful pain again. I hope you get your back straightened out as well. I know that some of these exercises in this hub helped me tremendously. :-)


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

So true, Abby! I have a degenerated disc, but acupuncture 10 years ago helped such a great deal. I love the exercises you posted. Going to do them as I never want that pain again!


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

I have always wanted to try acupuncture. Maybe someday! I hope begin feeling better and don't have to suffer the pain too much longer. :-)


Benjamin Chege 3 years ago

Awesome Abby!!! I have been looking for such insightful and comprehensive articles regarding back pain to no avail. The only solution I have tried is maintaining the right posture, but that alone is not enough. Will try the superman, cat-camel, and the bird-dog exercises and see if they will help avert back pain. Thumbs up


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Abby,

This was such a useful article as both me and my partner suffer with different levels of back pain. He has severe problems which leave him doubled over unable to straighten for days sometimes weeks. Mine is not as severe or bad but only came on in the past 5 years now and then. I saw a specialist some time ago for suspected arthritis in my foot area which was dismissed but ended up being told I was too supple and needed core strengthening and given exercises for my stomach, back area. Never thought being too supple was an issue but as I stopped so many sports and regular gym workouts it matters and affects the body.

Loved your description of the body, back as a tent and pole, so true! Your advice as always is excellent and makes sense. Thanks so much, will definitely look at the pilates options and tips to do!

Up +++ shared!


Hunbbel Meer profile image

Hunbbel Meer 3 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

Although I'm reaching at my mid-twenties, I've always suffered with a weak lower-back and lower-back pains. As soon as I start working out, the pain comes back.

Thanks for your timely hub and all the valuable information. Voted up :)


Mark Johann profile image

Mark Johann 3 years ago from Italy

I must see to it that I follow what you say here that posture is very important. This is my biggest problem. I normally has a bowing posture. I like it but I hate it. :)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you for commenting, Benjamin. I hope you find some relief soon. :-)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Hi Suzie. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Though I am sorry to hear that you and your partner suffer so much from back pain. Your specialist is right in advising core strengthening exercises. Tight abdominals will also help relieve some of the stress that is placed on the back. I hope you both find some relief soon. :-)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Hi Hunbbel. If exercises are what is causing your back pain, it could be your "form" that is causing it. Make sure you are tucking your pelvis and engaging your core when you exercise. It will help alleviate the stress on the back. Good luck to you! :-)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

LOL. I know what you mean, Mark. It's more comfortable sitting in a "bowing" position, but it won't be so comfortable as time goes by. I hope the information helps you. ;)


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Abby....GREAT info! I thank you...and my lower back thanks you BIG TIME!!............UP+++


GoForTheJuggler profile image

GoForTheJuggler 3 years ago from Texas

Great wealth of info here! I've dealt with lower back pain off and on for years - a combination of sitting at the PC a lot, and years of stocking at a grocery store in my youth. Sitting is the new smoking, the say....


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thanks for stopping by, Paula. I hope the advice helped! :-)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

LOL! So true! We don't realize how much sitting at the PC can damage the back. We must really watch our posture when doing so. I hope some of the advice here helps you, GoForTheJuggler. Have a great day! :-)

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