View Full Version : Lower back exercises/stretching

02-16-2008, 14:40
I'm hoping to get some good advice reference strengthening my lower back. I'm 34 yrs old in relatively good shape. My problem is it seems like my lower back gets fatigued easily these days. Wearing my gunbelt at work doesn't help much (police officer). Anyone know of any lower back specific back stretches/exercises I can do now to save myself 20 yrs from now.?

02-16-2008, 21:05
Do you spend much time driving?

That may well be the culprit.

02-16-2008, 21:19
Too much. I'm in and out of a patrol car 8-10 hrs a night.

02-16-2008, 21:47
Let me guess...

-bottom lumbar vertebra, right side
-excercise doesn't seem to help
-you can't quite find a seat position that works for you
-your back can get "tweaked" with no warning from simple bending/twisting movements

02-17-2008, 16:34
You're right on. I never know what small activity is going to lay me up for a day. Sometimes if I bend over to put a pair of socks on I'll be layed up for a few hours. I've been seeing a chiropractor for a couple of years now, seems like it's a temporary fix. After a week or so it's the sam old thing.

02-17-2008, 17:20
This is a common problem among the drivers at my work.
It can be quite debilitating.

The problem is caused by inflexibility in the upper spine and in the hamstrings.
All of the flex has to come out of the bottom vertebra.

The "tweaking" is caused when the muscles holding the vertebrae together are overstretched and go into spasm to protect themselves.

Generally, you'll have problems with the right side because your right leg is extended and relatively immobile while driving.
This increases the stress/stretch on the right side.

The seating position which feels somewhat comfortable and stable usually makes the problem worse.

We've found a fix.

First, if your insurance covers it, get a referral for physical therapy.
They can identify specifically where the flexibility and strength problems are and give you just the right exercises to address them.

Exercising the large muscle groups won't help. They aren't the problem.
Stretching your lower back will make it worse. Don't do it.

Stretches for your upper back and hamstrings need to be directed by an expert.
It is difficult to stretch these without stressing that lowest vertebra.

Second, you'll need to adjust the seats properly and rig a lumbar support in all of the vehicles you drive.

The seat bottom, if it tilts, should be as close to level as you can get it.
If possible, do not let it tilt to the rear.

If you can get one of those tubular pillows designed for lumbar support, use it.
If you can't find one, use a rolled-up bath towel.
The towel can be permanently attached to the seat by rolling it around bungy cords and linking the cords around your seat.

The pillow/towel should press on your back right about where it usually gets hurt.
The seat back should be adjusted to whatever is comfortable, so long as it doesn't interfere with the pressure of the pillow/towel.

This seating position will feel uncomfortable and unstable for about 3 weeks.
(It almost feels like you're "floating".)
You may notice a little soreness in your lower abs and some fatigue in your lower back.

If you're disciplined about using the pillow and seating position, your back will feel great after a few weeks.


The problem is probably made worse by wearing body armor.

The armor may prevent proper bending/twisting of the upper back.
All of the stretch has to come out of the bottom vertebrae.

This may be an issue worth addressing for all those who wear body armor on the job.

Blitzzz (RIP)
03-12-2008, 21:22
Grateful is right and gives good info. I do Physical therapy and would make a suggestion of two. As to the rolled up towel it will actually be too hard and not be tolerated long. Find the foam roll she mentioned. all exercises should core oriented but first you need to strengthen your Rectus Adominus muscle. It's a small movement muscle that runs across the lower end of your belly about belt line. you can start by"pulling" it in and holding it for 10 seconds about 10 times many times a day. you can do it while driving. After the TA is strengthened all of the other Abdominal exercises will be much more effective. Don't tighten your ABs focus lower. you can check it by talking. It will not interfere with your talking, where if you tighten your ABs it will be difficult to talk. Blitz

03-13-2008, 12:07
Went through these issues after I injured my hip and had the two surgeries. I also tweaked my back and the rehab. was core-based when I started my comeback. My hips had shifted as a result of limping and leaning because of the pain in my back as well. Swimming had a wonderful effect on the total recovery process, as well the core strengthening exercises.

Now I'm back and heading off to SFAS in June. Keep at it, stay strong, and rest as much as you can when you can.

Wishing you the best!


03-13-2008, 13:33
Thanks again. I'm feeling much better. I actually started swimming and am on day 4 of the P90X program.

04-23-2008, 11:07
SI Joint has been giving me problems when carrying pack or standing alot. I can run and do anything I want but after 39 years I guess ole bessy wants to act up. Therapy is not working, I just want to be able to do what I use to without alot of pain. (Not crying here :D)!! I have done alot of stretches and lower back exercise machines, even had me do the rubber ball push ups!! Can anyone please help me? Thanks!!

04-23-2008, 12:11
To anyone in the Arlington, VA area, or within a reasonable drive thereof, I can recommend my ART (Active Release Technique) Chiropractor, Dr. Travis Hart of Arlington Neck and Back. There's also an office owned by the same people in Gainesville, VA.

I tweaked something in my upper back, under my left shoulder blade, about 2 months ago after driving a few thousand miles in a week. That road trip left my entire neck, shoulders, and back screwed up. About half a dozen visits with Doc Hart took 100% of the pain away, though I felt much better after only the second visit.

Instead of classic chiropractors, ART docs concentrate on muscular injuries and the pain that is associated with them. Just pushing on the spine doesn't do much, and is not a cure - only treatment. Stretching out and healing the proper muscle groups will allow your spine to realign itself and will get you back to your daily routine with far less (if any) pain. Doc Hart cured some pains that I had been experiencing for so long that I'd forgotten about them.
Obviously, continuing to drive around for long hours, wearing body armor, etc., will deteriorate the situation, so you will need to continue visits to your ART doc...but if you got the treatment that I got, you'd understand the value of what these doctors can do.

Glad to hear that you're already feeling better. Swimming is a wonderful form of exercise and therapy as well!