Back flexibility and strength go hand in hand. Whether you want to achieve yoga poses like the wheel or eliminate back pain and reduce the risk of injury, you will find that doing regular lower back strengthening exercises is critical to improving your back flexibility. Yoga has transformed how I move my body. It has everything to offer when it comes to strength and flexibility. This is why I think you will enjoy these yoga-inspired exercises as much as I do.
Why Lower Back Strengthening Exercises?
You may wonder why today’s routine focuses on lower back strengthening exercises. I have been finding lower back strength crucial to improving my wheel. Moreover, lower back strengthening exercises will improve your posture and decrease back pain. I used to have to go to the chiropractor regularly because I had lower back pain. Not anymore!
How Often You Should Do Lower Back Strengthening Exercises
I recommend you practice today’s routine three times a week until you notice back flexibility and strength gains. It’s a quick routine, only 10-15 minutes long. I know you can find time to squeeze it into your day. You won’t regret it, as back flexibility progress happens quickly! Then, move on to some of my more advanced routines like How to Stretch for Back Flexibility (Follow Along Routine).
For a strategic full-body flexibility program, check out Moving With Intention.
Lower Back Strengthening Exercises Routine
In today’s routine, we perform five back-strengthening exercises using a wall for support.
The passive cobra pose is one of my favorites for increasing back flexibility. Since the focus is lower back strengthening, we use some cobra variations.
Cobra Push Ups
Start in a supine position with your hands under your armpits. Keeping your tailbone tucked and your shoulders down, gently lift and lower your upper body by pressing your hands. Use the strength of your back to raise and lower, not just rely on your arms to lift you. Repeat five times and hold for three breaths each time.
Half Cobra With Hands Off the Mat
Here, you will start like you want to get in the cobra pose, in a prone position, with your hands under your armpits. Instead of pressing through the palm of your hands to lift, you will rely solely on the strength of your lower back and keep the palm of your hands off the mat. Hold for five breaths.
Low Lunge With Back Reach
The low lunge with back reach might feel hard at first if you are not flexible. However, it’s worth practicing it. In time, you will gain more flexibility and be able to get quite far back! Start in your low lunge. Feel the stretch in your hip flexor, and get nice and comfortable. Make more space between your rib cage and your pelvis by sinching your waist and opening your chest. Bring your hands into prayer and see how far back you can bend. Take a few breaths. Next, extend your arms and lengthen your spine like you did the first time. See how far back you can reach your hands and take a few breaths.
Stand about three feet from the wall with your back facing the wall. Place one palm flat against the wall at shoulder level with your fingers pointing down. Bend your back as you take your other hand to the wall. Remove the first hand from the wall as you stand up straight again and repeat the other way—five times on each side.
Unsupported Arms Camel
This camel variation also aims to strengthen your lower back. Start on your knees with your legs about hip distance apart. Bring your hands into prayer, cinch your waist, and lift your chest to make more space in your spine (like we did in the low lunge). See how far back you can get as if you were going to do the camel pose while keeping your hands in prayer. As you increase your back strength and flexibility, you can take one arm back while holding the other hand on your pelvis. Eventually, you will be able to extend both arms back.
The wheel is the BEST back strength and flexibility exercise, in my opinion. However, it’s not for beginners. Please don’t do it until you are ready. I like to start with wheel pushups to open up, and I sometimes use the wall to get deeper into a static wheel (watch the full-length back strengthening routine).
Read The 10 Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain for more yoga-inspired lower back strengthening exercises.