As its name implies, the Lumbar Strengthener And Pain Reliever does more than building bone in the lower back. It is also particularly effective at relieving pain in that problem-prone area.

Lower back pain can fall anywhere on the spectrum between nagging and debilitating. Regardless of its severity, it is a pervasive and widespread health problem, accounting for countless hours of missed work and more visits to the doctor than any other ailment besides upper respiratory infections.

To avoid and prevent pain, the lumbar vertebrae and lower back muscles need to be stretched and strengthened, which is exactly what this weekend’s challenge is intended to do. So let’s begin by honing in on the lower back and exploring this in greater depth.

Why:

There is no question that lower back pain is a significant problem. But why is it so prevalent? The answer begins with understanding the anatomy of the lower back.

The lumbar spine is composed of five vertebrae, L1through L5. The largest un-fused vertebrae in the spinal column, the lumbar spine, is built for both mobility and stability. They join with the first fused vertebrae of the sacrum (S1) at the lumbosacral joint, which is built for rotation and mobility during motion.

L1 through S1 bear the weight of the whole torso, making them prone to wear and tear as well as injury. The lower the vertebra, the more weight it must bear, making L4, L5, and S1 particularly prone to pain.

Interestingly, the spinal cord does not run through the lumbar vertebrae. Between T12 (the lowest thoracic vertebrae) and L1, the spinal cord branches out like a horse tail (hence the name, cauda equina). These branches travel through the buttocks down to the feet.

Muscles Of The Lower Back

Because the lower back bears so much weight, the muscles are designed to be supportive and stabilizing. The main muscles of this area are the extensors, flexors, and obliques. There are others, too, as you’ll soon read.

The extensor muscles attach to the back of the spine (posterior), and are used when you stand up and lift objects. The extensors include the erector spinae and the glutes.

The flexors are attached to the front (anterior) of the spine, and this group includes the abdominals, which we’ll look at more closely in a moment. The flexors allow you to bend forward, lift objects, and arch your lower back.

The obliques are attached along the sides of your spine, enabling you to rotate your spinal column and maintain correct posture.

Another group of muscles that is often overlooked with regard to lower back strength is the abdominals. (The obliques are a part of the abdominals.) Weak “abs” cannot support the lumbar spine properly, and can cause the vertebrae to sag out of alignment, causing pain.

The transversus abdominus is the deepest abdominal muscle, lying against the pelvis and lower spine. It’s pivotal for lower back strength and pulling in your abdomen, which prevents the lumbar vertebrae from arching too far forward.

Finally, the multifidus criss-crosses down along the lumbar vertebrae, keeping the bones aligned and supporting the torso.

When any of these muscles are weak, tight, or injured, your lower back will suffer and you’ll experience pain. There are other causes, too.

Causes Of Lower Back Pain

The most obvious cause of pain in this area is injury, such as pulled muscles, sprained ligaments, and impact (as in a fall or colliding with an object). Obesity can also cause lower back pain, since these five vertebrae support most of the upper body.

Arthritic inflammation of the joints and poor posture are other culprits, and even stress can contribute to this kind of pain.

Back pain can also be a sign of something serious, such as kidney stones, infections, or inflammation and disease of various internal organs. Make sure you check with your doctor if you get a sudden, suspicious back pain.

These reasons explain in large part why this type of pain is so prevalent. The conditions that cause it are all too common.

How Exercise Relieves Back Pain

When you work these muscles in controlled, targeted movements, it enhances the strength and stability of the lower back. It also promotes alignment, relieving muscle tension that can result when vertebrae are misaligned. In addition, exercising these muscles encourages proper posture and balance.

One of the most important benefits of lower back exercises is increasing in bone strength and integrity. The pressure of muscle against bone stimulates new bone formation as per Wolff’s Law, relieving pain that may be caused by low bone density in the lower spine.

Now let’s get started with the Lumbar Strengthener And Pain Reliever!

How:

Using an exercise mat makes this move more comfortable.

  1. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Raise your feet so only your knees are touching the floor (this is the same position some people use to do push-ups). Your hands should be flat on the floor.
  2. Lift one leg, keeping your knee bent at an approximate 90-degree angle. The bottom of your foot should be parallel to the ceiling.
  3. Lift your leg no higher than your back – your thigh should be roughly parallel to the floor at the highest lift.
  4. Lower your leg back down to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Aim for 10 lifts on each side, but feel free to do fewer if necessary.

Advanced Version

If you prefer more of a challenge, try this exercise with your legs straight out behind you and your toes on the floor. You’ll start in a classic push-up position, but keep your elbows straight, as in the regular version described above. Lift your legs one at a time, keeping your knees straight and not letting your feet go more than a few inches higher than your back. If you do the latter, make sure to keep your abdominal muscles pulled in.

Try combining this exercise with two other Weekend Challenges, the Deep Core Stabilizer and the No Crunch Abs Toner And Balance Booster.

It’s Remarkable What Targeted Exercise Can Do To Relieve Stiffness And Pain

The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System provides just the sorts of moves you need to work out the “kinks” and muscle tension that can cause nagging pain.

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Densercise™ exercises are targeted moves that hone in on those “trouble areas” that are prone to fracture and discomfort. The bottom line is, muscles and bones hurt if they’re not used the way they were intended!

Have a great weekend!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  1. Marcia P

    Thank you for sharing! I’m 64 and have a job sitting in front of a computer all day. It’s helpful to remember that we all start where we are and build strength one day at a time.

  2. Carolyn

    Thanks Vivian for all your wonderful articles and exercises. You are truly a blessing to all us savers.

    Would like to know what you think of diatomaceous earth….I keep reading about it and wonder if it is harmful to our bones.

    Thanks, Carolyn

  3. Teresa Ochoa

    This is an exercise which I have been doing in a similar way during the week to strengthen the hip gluteus and back

  4. shulamit sendowski

    this back exercise Looks good. Thanks.

  5. Linda

    I would prefer a video to do excercises with as well. makes it much easier for us.

  6. Anne

    Interesting excercises I will try this for a week and then assess the results before I continue. Aeg

  7. Kim

    Yes a video would be great. But even better would be a series of 6 videos that would cover a week. Then boredom doesn’t set in.?

  8. Danaellen

    I appreciate lumbar spine targeted exercises. I wish your dencersize book could be made into a DVD . I would rather follow an instructor that read a book to exercises.

    I am drinking the distilled water as you suggest but there are so many negative articles, written by doctors, cautioning against distilled water that it scares me. IF distilled water is good for us why is there not consensus?

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Hi Danaellen,

      Please check your inbox for a message from Customer Support. 🙂

  9. Linda

    Hi Vivian,

    I love these exercises and the detailed explanations of muscles, but. . .what would be extremely helpful to visual learners like me would to have a sketch, pointing out the targeted muscles, tendons and/or bones. I know this would be a lot of work, but would be most enlightening as I struggle to picture the “list of words”. Just a suggestion for an otherwise super website.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for your feedback, Linda. Keep exercising!

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