Improving Lower Back Fitness for Runners, Cyclists and Hill Walkers

While walking is a low-impact form of exercise that can work wonders for your fitness levels, as well as providing other health benefits such as burning off those pesky calories and keeping your joints flexible; it can still put you at risk of strains and other injuries. Even without getting injured, hill walks and other outdoor pursuits can leave you feeling stiff and achey after a day on the peaks and moors.

This guide provides some great tips for increasing your upper body fitness levels in order to improve your performance when it comes to running, cycling and hill waking.

Combatting Lower Back Pain

After walking for extended periods, it is not uncommon to feel the strain in your lower back. While there are many well-known exercises you can do to strengthen and build-up your leg muscles, working out your back muscles can be a trickier prospect. Thankfully there are some easy to do exercises which can improve the well-being of your lower back.

Bottom to Heels Stretch

By regularly completing this home exercise a few times a week you can go a long way towards stretching and improving the mobility of your spine in order to prevent lower back pain while walking:

  1. Kneel on all fours and keep your back straight
  2. Bring your bottom down to your heels, keeping your palms planted on the floor
  3. Take a deep breath then return to the starting position

Complete the exercise up to 10 times to complete the set.

Back Extensions

This exercise can give your spine and lower back a good stretch out and help to keep everything supple down there:

  1. Lie on the floor, flat, face down on your front
  2. With your arms bent at the elbow, place your palms on the floor, either side of your head
  3. Lift your upper body up from the waist, pushing against the floor with your hands
  4. Hold the position then return to the start

Complete this lower back exercise 10 times.

Wall Sits

This no-equipment exercise can work wonders for your back and core strength. All you need is a wall to give it a try:

  1. Stand about a foot away from a wall, with your back facing it
  2. Lean back until your back reaches the wall
  3. Slide down the wall until your knees are bent and you are in a position similar to sitting on a (invisible) chair
  4. Hold the sitting position for 10 seconds or more and then return to the start

Repeat this exercise 10 times before moving on.

The above exercises can all be performed at home without any equipment and are a good way to begin strengthening your lower back to avoid pain when walking, running or cycling.

Lower Back Exercises for the Gym

If you want to take your preventative strength training to the next level, adding weighted resistance exercises to your workouts can vastly improve your upper body, core and trunk which can really increase your ability to partake in other outdoor activities. Here are some resistance exercises to strengthen your back:

  • Deadlifts: this exercise requires the use of a barbell is probably the best exercise for strengthening your back and upper body in one.
  • Pull-ups: by performing chin ups, or even better, pull-ups, you can strengthen your upper back primarily and your lower back as well, not to mention your arms.
  • Stiff Leg Good Mornings: while this exercise might look quite advanced and even possibly dangerous to the untrained eye, it is brilliant at strengthening those trunk muscles which could otherwise begin to ache and cause problems on a long walk, run or cycle ride.

Hopefully this guide has given you some ideas on preventative exercises you can do at home or in the gym to combat lower back pain and strengthen up this part of your body.

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