Your lower back is meant to move. Yes, really. At times, it doesn’t feel as if your lower back is built to flex and extend and twist and turn. But work through the right lower back stretch, and your entire lower back will showcase plenty of movement.
“Your lower back is built to move,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “It only feels as if it’s not, because we often don’t let it work through all its capable movement.” That’s the idea behind the Ultimate Lower Back Flow, an anytime, anywhere move from Samuel that loosens your lower back and builds strength and mobility in a variety of ways.
Samuel’s Ultimate Lower Back Flow is meant to be done in a variety of situations, and it’s perfect for the office or the gym alike. It’s a simple move that requires the ground and a little bit of room. “Even that,” says Samuel, “you don’t need a ton of space.” Once you get started with it, it lets you twist and rotate through your entire spine. It also lets you round your back and arch it to the max of your capabilities. “We forget about these things,” says Samuel, “or sometimes, we label them as movements we don’t want to do, and consider them ‘bad’.” But training and working through your lower back’s range bulletproofs it, and also rushes blood to the area, readying your lower back for action and movement in real life.
The Ultimate Lower Back Flow is built from two key moves that are well-known: The Child’s Pose, which lets you round your back, and the Upward Dog, an exercise that helps you arch your back. In both situations, you want to work in a comfortable range of motion for yourself, says Samuel. “Not everyone will feel comfortable in the up-dog, and not everyone will push their butt back the same amount in the Child’s Pose,” he says. “Make sure it feels good; it should never hurt.”
Do the move anytime, anywhere, once you know how. Here’s the lowdown.
- Sit on your shins, feet together, knees spread apart slightly.
- Push your butt back as far as possible and reach your hands out in front of you as far as possible. Hold and breathe.
- Keep reaching your right hand forward and pushing your butt back and thread your left arm under your right armpit, reaching as far as you can. Hold, then return to Child’s Pose. Repeat on the other side.
- Shift your torso forward so your belly is on the ground.
- Press your chest away from the ground, arching your back.
- Push back to Child’s Pose and repeat. Work through the flow for 45 seconds, then rest 15 seconds. Do 3-4 sets.
The Ultimate Lower Back Flow is terrifically versatile and can fit into your workout in a variety of ways. It can easily be a perfect warmup move for any session, whether it’s a full-body weights workout, a bodyweight HIIT session, or a run. It’s also a solid cooldown move after a day full of deadlifts or squats. Alternatively, you can remove it from the gym entirely: Do it anytime you need to loosen up your lower back, whether you’re at the office or relaxing at home. That versatility gives you plenty of reason to use it frequently. Don’t be afraid to work through this Flow every day: You can never get enough mobility and movement through your spine.
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