Great Lower Back Exercises and Lower Back Stretches For Runners
As runners, we often focus on our leg workouts to continue to build that endurance, as well as arm and core work to increase fitness and create and stronger body. But lower back exercises and stretches are also really important for runners.
The lower back is often forgotten about by runners.
And lower back pain is actually is really common among runners. The cause? A weak core and hips, which throw off proper form.
The problem is unless you suffer from lower back pain, there is a chance nothing is done to strengthen this part of the body.
Or worse—maybe it is lower back pain that is the problem and the runner needs some exercises to help soothe and prevent this.
Here are some of the best lower back exercises for runners.
Exercises Targeting The Back
This is one of the best back exercises for runners because it works on stabilizing the muscles. It is especially great for the lower back.
To do back extensions, or hyperextension, get down on your stomach on a gym mat, With legs out straight, with shoulders down. Then lift the torso, pressing the hips into the mat.
Make sure to keep the neck in a neutral position to prevent strain.
Hold here for about 30-seconds and lower. Do at least three reps.
There are back extension gym machines available to you so that you don’t need to get on the floor. These help you get a full range of motion. Just have a trainer show you how to properly use it to prevent injury.
Deadlifts are another great lower back exercise, great for the erector spinae, which helps straighten and rotate the back.
The runner must also rely on the upper back muscles too to keep good form.
Deadlifts are down by lowering down in front of a loaded barbell, bending at the hips with knees bent. The grip should be overhanded, and keep hands just a bit past shoulder width,
The back should be at a slight arch, but not rounded. Pull the torso up with hips moving forward to stand up straight with the barbell\.
Then drop the bar and repeat.
This is another great lower back exercise. It’s the lower back that is the main target, but other muscles benefiting include the upper back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Think of it as a variation of a deadlift, and it can help with deadlift form.
It’s done by using a power rack and barbell.
Set the height of the rack, whether it’s below the knee, above the knee or halfway of the thigh. The higher the rack, the more work on the back.
With hands shoulder-width apart, grab the bar with palms facing you. Lift the bar, enraging the hamstring and push the hips forward and straightening he knees. Keep the back straight, pulling the shoulder back,
Slowly go back down, lowering the bar back not the rack.
This exercise is great for working out the back muscles, as well as the hamstrings, glutes, and posterior deltoids. It strengthens the back as well as helps to improve posture.
It’s done by lying facedown on the floor, with the forehead touching the ground and arms reaching out overhead. Then at the same time, lift both the arms and the legs to “fly like Superman.”
This includes lifting the head as well, so lift with the chest. Do not lookup. Keep eyes on the ground to prevent neck strain. Point the toes and keep the feet flat and keep palms flat too.
Hold for 10-seconds then lower.
This is a great strengthening exercise for the glutes, hamstrings, and even is a great exercise for the lower back.
Get on the floor, lying face up. Bend the knees and keep the feet firmly on the ground. Lift the hips off the ground and feel the glutes squeeze. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down. Repeat for 10 reps.
Dumbbell Single Arm Row
This back exercise is exceptionally great for the latissimus dorsi, for lats, which are the largest muscles in the upper body that connect to the spine. This is more mid-back location-wise, but still worth incorporating.
Place the right knee on a workout bench along with the right hand, arm straight with back straight. The left leg remains on the ground.
With a dumbbell in the left hand while the arm is fully extended, slowly raise the weight into the chest, elbow forming a 90-degree angle. Lower back to the start.
Get in a few reps and repeat on the other side.
Best Back Stretches For Runners
This is a great stretch for the lower back.
Start facedown on the ground, then with Pams on the found bend at the elbows and slowly start to lift from the chest. Only lift the upper torso, keeping the rest of the body on the ground.
Continue to lift until arms are straight and raise head up, eyes to the ceiling. Make sure to breathe deeply.
Hold for a few seconds and release.
Despite its name, it’s a lower back stretch not for the legs.
Knee Drops are done to loosen up back tension. It’s done by lying on a yoga or exercise mat on your back with feet flat on the ground. Arms should be outstretched on the sides like a cross.
With knees bent, keep them and the ankles together. Then drop both knees together slowly to the left and right. Keep the back flat and shoulders on the ground.
This is the ultimate stretch to the lower back. And it’s very easy to do.
Start on the knees, sitting back onto your heels. Lower your torso to the ground, arms reaching overhead. Inhale and wit the exhale stretch forward, allowing for the chest to go down into the ground deeper.
Breathe and hold this position for a few sections.
Exercises And Stretches To Ease And Prevent Back Pain
Work on building a solid foundation. This means strengthening the hips and legs so that you have a strong truck. It’s these muscles to surround the lower back and support it.
Try these exercises which aid in preventing back pain.
This is a great exercise to strengthen the quads, glutes, and hips.
Start in a standing position with the back facing a chair. Lift one foot off the ground out front and lower down in a squat. Make sure the hips are back, back is straightened, and the knee is bending on the leg with the foot on the ground. Sit down in the chair, using the abs to then immediately get back up. Never lower the raised leg.
Repeat on the other leg and do 10 reps.
Yoga is amazing for its strengthening and lengthening properties.
And cat-cow is great for stretching out the lower back.
It’s done by starting on all fours on a yoga mat. Round the spine while lowering the head to mimic an angry cat, inhaling slowly while doing so. Then exhale slowly and arch the backup and head lifting so that eyes reach the ceiling.
Repeat for 10 reps.
Lie on the ground, face up with hands just a touch under the hips. Raise both legs at the same time so that the body forms a 90-degree angle. Use your core to lift the legs and make sure the back stays firmly planted on the ground, and don’t let it arch.
Lower the legs back down without touching the ground and repeat for 10 reps.
Another great yoga move, this is all about building a strong core.
The starting position is on all fours in a tabletop position with back flat. Then lift the right hand off the ground simultaneously with the left foot, reaching outwards with both limbs. The right arm should be fully extended as well as the left leg and hold it back straight.
The trick here is to rely on the abs. Do not arch your back.
Try to hold for at least 30-second then go back to the start. Repeat on the other side.
This is a great yoga stretch that helps release tension in the hamstrings and glutes. In turn, it further helps to prevent lower back pain.
Start on all fours and bring the right knee forward to the right wrist. Aim to have the ankle in front of the left hip. The left leg should be straight back with toes flexed.
Inhale and raise the torso with arms straight and fingertips touch the mat. Then go down on forearms on the exhale. Make sure to breathe and feel the stretch.
Release in downward dog and repeat on the other side.
Planks are known for being a power move for the core.
Start on all fours with forearms out. Lift all and make the body form a straight line, resting on the forearms. Keep the butt down and core engaged.
Start by holding for at least 10-seconds and do three reps. Aim to get to holding for 30-seconds straight and then up to 45-seconds if ambitious.
Benefits For Runners
It’s a good idea that runners focus on lower back exercises. This is because strengthen the back muscles means being able to have good posture and good running form.
A strong lower back helps to stabilize the spine and pelvis, which in turn helps prevent injury.
Without a strong back, the body suffers when running. It can lead to leg and hip injuries.
Lower back exercises can even help recover from back pain caused by arthritis, herniated disks or heaving lifting.
According to a study published in the Journal of Biomechanics, a weak core could be the cause for lower back pain. Make sure to also work on core strength along with lower back exercises to build a strong runner’s body.
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