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4 Simple Moves to Improve Your Low Back

Now that you’ve improved your hip, leg, and ankle mobility with our last three posts  (right? or get caught up here, here, and here), it’s time to move up the chain to the low back.  Restrictions in the  spine may cause a host of problems, from poor force transfer to serious injury, and back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in the world.

Here’s a simple routine you can do everyday.  Some equipment is required, for one element.  Total time is 12-15:00/session:

1. Cat/Cow: come to the “6-point” position, with your toes, knees, and hands on the floor.  Hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips.  As you exhale, pull your belly button to your spine while arching your back to the ceiling.  Let your shoulders round forwards and your tailbone tuck under.  As you inhale, fill the lower belly first while you push your tailbone up and out and sink between the shoulder blades.  Repeat for at least 5 full breaths.



2. Spinal Twist: lay on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent about 90 degrees.  Keeping your shoulders on the floor, lower your knees to your right.  Grab your left knee with your right hand and pull it towards the floor.  Hold your left arm out to your side (like a scarecrow) and look towards your left hand.  Hold for a minimum of 5 full in-and-out breathing cycles.  Repeat on the other side.


3. Lateral Opener: sit on the floor with your legs “Indian-style” or half-lotus, or as close to those as your body allows (revisit our hip mobility post for help with this).  Sit up tall and straight.  Raise your right arm straight up, and then lean to your left from your waistline.  Keep your hips planted on the floor and your torso upright, just bent to your left.  Fight the temptation to let your right shoulder come forward over your legs.  Your shoulders should be in the same line as your hips.  Gently return to the starting position on an exhale and switch your feet.  Hold for a minimum of 5 full in-and-out breathing cycles.  Repeat on the other side.



DON’T Do this


4. Global Gut Smash: Like all mobility work, this should be uncomfortable, but never painful.  For this, you’ll need a ball of some sort.  A small kid’s ball is ideal, but a soccer ball, small medicine ball, or even a rolled up towel can work.  Put the ball on the ground, then lay on top of it with the ball centered between your hipbone and ribcage.  As you exhale, sink your weight onto the ball.  Inhale, hold for a few seconds, then exhale and try to sink deeper.  Spend 5 minutes on each side of your torso.  Yes, that’s a long time, but it will pay off magnificently.


Perform all or part of this routine as often as you can, and improvement will come quickly!  Basically, if it crosses your mind, pause and knock out a mobility exercise.  Even if you can only get it in ‘here and there’, that’s better than nothing, and will help you make progress, or at least feel a bit better before continuing with your day.

Shoot me an email if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer