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Lumbar Exercises & Back Stretches

The lumbar region is the lowest of the three sections of the spine. Usually the lumbar region is just referred to as the lower back. Stretching the lower back increases lumbar flexibility and spine mobility. Exercises for the lower back can also increase strength and flexibility in the back, including the thoracic portion of the middle and upper back up to the cervical area of the neck.

Lumbar Spine Stretch Using a Squat Position

This stretch using a squat position is a difficult exercise to fully get into, but you can slowly work your way into it over time and still get the benefits of increasing flexibility as you go. You may wish to try this stretch in front of your bed or a bench, something you can use to help you get up from or even into the lower part of the exercise. Stand with your feet hips-width apart and parallel with each other. Bend your knees and drop your buttocks toward your heels. Bring your upper body between your legs so that your shoulders are slightly in front of your knees. Press your heels flat and encircle your legs with your arms, clasping hands or elbows in front of your shins. Remain in the stretch for the desired length of time, then stand up out of it.

Overhead Squats

These squats are for an intermediate or advanced workout. The lumbar spine flexes and stretches while the thoracic spine extends, making your abdominals and lower back muscles work hard to maintain balance and stabilization. Stand with your feet shoulders-width apart and turn your feet out slightly. You may place your heels on a small heel raise board. Hold your arms at your sides. Lower into a full squat and keep your back straight. This will be easier to do with your toes turned out. Raise your right arm above your head as you squat. Stand back up tall. Squat again and raise your left arm. Alternate arms overhead as you squat or raise them both simultaneously.

Prayer Stretch

The prayer stretch targets the lower back, though if your shoulders or chest lack flexibility this exercise may help you there, too. Drop onto your hands and knees so that all four points of contact on the floor line up with each of your shoulders and hip bones. Next, slowly lower your buttocks back onto your legs without moving your hands. Stretch your arms forward as you lengthen your spine to bring your hips back. If you cannot comfortably touch your hips to your calves, you can use a pillow or a yoga block between your lower legs to sit on. Hold for the desired length of time.

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About the Author

Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.

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