Strengthen Your Lower Back in 15 Minutes

   date: 2013-02-12 time: 17:57:00
By toning the muscles in your back, you can relieve and prevent pain.
The Routine
If the phrase “Oh, my aching back” is part of your vernacular, you’re not alone. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in adults (only headaches top it). The good news is that by strengthening and stretching the muscles in your back (which, with your abs, make up the all-important core), you can relieve and prevent pain. In fact, research shows that the sooner patients with minor back pain begin exercising, the quicker they recover. Warm up first (a brisk eight-minute walk will do), then perform 8 to 10 repetitions of each exercise, working up to three sets. You’ll need a five-pound dumbbell and an empty wastebasket. Remember to move in controlled motions, since jerking your body increases the chance of injury.
Lower back
Move 1: Lunge, Lift, and Turn
Start with feet in a staggered position with the right foot forward and place a dumbbell on the ground to the left of the right foot. With your abs contracted, bend both knees into a lunge and, keeping your back flat, pick up the dumbbell with your left hand (top picture).
   Return to a standing position (center picture). Switch the dumbbell to your right hand as you turn on your toes to face the opposite direction.
   With a flat back, lunge with the left leg forward and bend down to place the dumbbell on the right side of the left foot (bottom picture). Stand up and repeat the action in the other direction for one rep.
Illustration of lunge, lift, and turn exercise
Move 2: Twist, Squat, and Lift
Stand with feet about hip distance apart and place a wastebasket, with a five-pound dumbbell inside it, behind the right foot (top picture). Twist to the right as you squat down and pick up the wastebasket.
   Pushing through your heels, stand up straight and bring the basket to waist level (center picture).
   Twist and squat to place the basket behind the left foot (bottom picture). Stand back up for one rep.
Illustration of twist, squat, and lift exercise
Move 3: Tiger Push-up
Start with hands and knees on the ground. Sit back on your heels and extend your arms forward into child’s pose (top picture).
   Raise your head and slide your torso forward along the ground, arching your spine and straightening your arms so that they are supporting your weight (bottom picture). Hold for one to four seconds. Reverse the motion by lowering your chest to the ground, bending your knees and raising your hips, and sliding back into child’s pose.
Illustration of tiger push-up exercise
Move 4: Crunch, Reach, and Roll
Lie on your back with legs in the air and knees bent. Lift your head and shoulders into a crunch position, and raise and extend your arms forward (top picture).
   Move your arms straight back, so they are next to your ears, and extend your legs (center picture).
   Roll to the right onto your stomach so you end up in a Superman pose, with shoulders off the floor and legs extended and raised slightly (bottom picture). Squeeze your shoulder blades together and contract your abs and glutes as you hold for one to four seconds. In a controlled motion, roll back to the starting position, trying not to touch the floor with your hands or feet. Repeat on the left for one rep.
Illustration of crunch, reach, and roll exercise
Move 5: Scorpion Stretch
Lie flat on your stomach with feet together, arms extended outward to form a T, palms facing down, and forehead on the ground (top picture).
   Squeeze your right glute, bend your right knee, and lift your right leg as high as you can (center picture).
   Twist your hips and reach your right foot over to touch the ground on the outside of your left leg (bottom picture). Try to keep your arms and chest on the floor. Reverse the movement to come to the starting position, then repeat with the left leg for one rep.
Illustration of scorpion stretch exercise
Move 6: Rotating Plough
Beginning on your back, pull your legs, with knees slightly bent, into your chest. For support, place your hands low on your back near your hips (top picture).
   Gently rock your legs from side to side (bottom picture). Return to the starting position for one rep.
Illustration of rotating plough exercise
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