Jan 12, 2022
We are replaying one of our most popular episodes for you this
In part two of the interview with Dr. James Fisher, we explore
what it takes to actually strengthen the lower back and why
exercises like the deadlift are not effective in targeting your
lower back muscles. Find out how some people can experience
significant lower back strength gain in as little as ten weeks with
only 15 total minutes of muscle tension (60 to 90 seconds per
week!) and why stretching without strength training can actually
make your lower back pain worse.
- The lower back is a notoriously difficult to train muscle
group, which is why so many people are walking around with weak
lower backs that are easy to injure and irritate.
- Fisher did some research with professional athletes to measure
the effectiveness of certain exercises in strengthening the lower
back and found that exercises that didn’t isolate the lower back
didn’t make a major impact. However, lower back isolating exercises
had a greater impact over more general exercises like the
- The lower back needs an isolation exercise and preferably one
that doesn’t also load the gluteal muscles. These exercises are
best done with lower back specific pieces of equipment.
- In terms of overall strength, people who do lumbar exercises
see significant increases in strength. Dr. Fisher has seen lumbar
strength increases as high as 200% over the course of ten weeks, as
well as improved lifestyle function, with a training frequency of
once per week.
- Lower back exercises are typically just one set and roughly 90
seconds of muscle tension.
- The lumbar muscles are an example of how you can use your
muscles and still lose them due to the deleterious effects of
aging. You need to use specific muscle fibers in a specific manner
in order to build the strength in your lower back.
- Stretching can be taken too far if you are not also
strengthening the muscles involved. Making your spine and back more
mobile without making it stronger can make things worse for you in
the long run. Things like yoga should be supplemental to a proper
strength training regime.
- Lower back pain often restricts range of motion, but there are
still opportunities to train the muscle group without a full
extension. You can start small and expand the range as you get
- People with lower back pain also tend to be cautious about
moving their lower back, especially during exercise. This is why
lower back machines that control the range of motion are effective.
They maintain safety and stability while loading the muscles
- In terms of age, lower back exercises are suited to pretty much
everyone in society except for certain individuals; ex. If you’re
pregnant, a small child, or have an injured spine. Once you’ve
ruled out those conditions, you can safely and confidently
strengthen the lower back.
- The more we know about our body, the more we know how to fix
it. Helping identify the source of lower back pain, as well as what
isn’t the issue, is all part of the journey of alleviating pain and
improving quality of life.
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