Neglecting proper training of the core and lower back can potentially develop into a muscular imbalance (meaning on side is stronger or more dominant than another) or extreme weakness of the core which often causes an improper pelvic and spinal position during activity.  This improper position and muscular weakness causes excessive or uneven force to your spine and according to Hodges PW, Richardson CA, a researcher indexed in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, a weak or poorly controlled core has been linked to low back pain and increased risk of injury.

Since back muscles control movements such as extension and flexion of the spine and trunk rotation, core strength training, specifically for the lower back, is an important part of any well balanced workout routine.  The stronger and more correctly balanced the core muscles are, the less the uneven strain on the spine.  Why is it then, that core training (unless it’s abs or crunches) and flexibility is often an afterthought when it comes to putting together your weekly workout plan?

For me, even though I love core exercises and core strength training, I find it very easy to skip the stretching of the lower back and core. The exercises are kind of boring, I don’t get overly fatigued, and it takes time away from other fun exercises like running, jumping rope, or weight training.

The only way I can motivate myself to make an effort to perform lower back strengthening and stretching on a regular basis is to remind myself that it helps prevent fluke injuries and develops my body strength in a balanced way and to schedule it on a certain day, like Saturday, when I know I have more free time.  It helps me stay motivated enough to do the exercises at least once per week.

While searching the web, I found two reference articles you can use as guides to incorporating lower back exercises into your routine. The first article demonstrates back strengthening exercises with the use of an exercise ball. The second article shows lower back stretches and strengthening moves you can do at home, without any equipment.

Strategies for incorporating these exercises into your workouts

*Perform the lower back stretches and back strengthening exercises between difficult sets (as a rest period).

*Rotating between challenging core exercises and easier lower back exercises at the end or beginning of your workout.

*Lower Back exercises and stretching at the end of my workout as a cool-down.

In addition to preventing injuries, improving strength and flexibility of abdominal and back muscles helps to stabilize the spine and make it easier to maintain correct posture. Five or ten minutes a week of invested time can prevent injuries that can require weeks of slow recovery and continual pain (I know about this very well). Instead of ignoring the importance of these exercises, just give in and do them! You’ll thank me!

If you do your exercises and still have chronic back pain, you might want to check out this website I found that deals with rehabilitation and natural pain management.