Your lower-back is one of the trickiest things to properly exercise. Do it wrong, and you could face a series of negative consequences. Do it right, and the benefits are never ending.
One of the most telling signs of a poorly treated lower-back is the dreaded spare tire.
The spare tire (sometimes called muffin top) can be broken down into three components:
No matter how much you run, or how many sit ups you do, you just can’t seem to target the little pouch below your belly button. Your arms, chest, legs, and even upper abs are solid, but for some reason that stubborn lower belly won’t budge.
Love Handles (obliques)
You’ve tried side bends, oblique crunches, wall sits, pretty much every trick in the book. nothing works. sometimes you wonder if there is even a muscle there to be worked?
A tight lower back can have a detrimental effect on almost all aspects of your health and life. Soreness, limited physical activity, and bad posture are just the tip of the iceberg.
So if you’ve tried to get rid of your spare tire with no success, you may want to try focusing on correct usage of your lower back. The following stretch/muscle memory exercise is the perfect way to get started.
The Ultimate Lower-Back Stretch to Improve Form & Posture
The purpose of this stretch is to alleviate all of that tension in your lower back. The key here is FORM. It can’t be forced. Your primary concern here should be doing this exercise properly, it’s the whole point of it.
What You’ll Need:
- Blake Blaster Squat Trainer & Travel Gym (Highly recommended)
- Some Focus & Patience (Also, highly recommended)
Start by standing with your side facing the mirror. Align yourself so that you’re profile is barely visible in the mirror. Ideally, the back half of your body should be cut off by the edge of the mirror. This is key to getting the proper stretch.
Your feet should be placed shoulder width apart, under your hips. Stand up straight, with your head and chest up. Your body should now be lined up with the edge of the mirror – can use it as reference to make sure your standing straight and with correct posture.
Step 1: Take a few slow, deep breaths before starting. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. As you breathe you should be focusing on standing with perfect posture, controlling the engagement of your core muscles with each breath.
Step 2: Slowly begin to sit back, like you are doing a squat. When you initiate the motion, your hips and knees should bend simultaneously. This is very important.
Step 3: Once your knees and hips are both slightly bent (less than a quarter squat), check your form in the mirror. Your shins should still be perfectly aligned with the edge of the mirror (I bet they’re not). Holding your partial squat position, bring your knees back behind your toes, so that your shins are once again lined up with the mirror. As you do this, you will most likely start to come off balance, and your heels will try to lift off the floor. This entire stretch is about preventing this, so really focus on keeping your feet flat on the ground. As you straighten out your shins by pushing your knees back, keep your balance by engaging your core muscles. Remember, you have six abdominal muscles, each one used differently during different movements. For this stretch, you should focus on engaging your lower two abs.
Step 4: Now that you’re back to perfect form, do a quick mental checklist:
- Chest/Head Up
- Core Muscles Engaged (Lower 2 Abs)
- Controlled Breathing
- Feet Flat on Ground
- Knees Behind Toes
- Weight Centered
You don’t have to run through this specific checklist every time, but it’s a good starting point to get you thinking in the right direction. No matter what kind of exercise you’re performing, a quick ‘form audit’ is always beneficial and prevents injury.
Step 5: Start to sit back even more, once again making sure to bend at the knees and hips simultaneously. Do this very slowly, while paying attention to your shins. As soon as they start to stray from the edge of the mirror, make them straight again. It may be uncomfortable, and you might feel off balance, but that’s okay. Use the mental checklist above to fix what you’re forgetting, and bring yourself back to focus.
If you do this correctly, pushing your knees back will stop making you lose balance. Instead, this will open up your hips, and correctly activate your lower back muscles that have probably been covered in knots your whole life. Once you feel this stretch, you’ll know it, believe me.
Note: If you want to take this stretch, and your entire routine to the next level, I highly suggest investing in a Blake Blaster. The wedge design will assist your balance as you build correct muscle memory and proper form. This allows you to squat deeper while keeping your shins straight, which we now know is of extreme importance.
So there you have it. I’ll reiterate here that the take away of this is to keep your knees back, feet planted and shins straight. Using the mirror as a visual aid allows you to really fine tune this during a squatting motion. Don’t worry about how far you can squat when starting out. The key is to find what you’re capable of doing correctly, and to build a proper foundation from there. Best of luck!