If you’re a lifter that’s injured your lower back but wishes to fully recover and lift heavy weights in the future, then this article is for you.
If you think that I’m going to talk about “stretching” and give you a bunch of lightweight bullshit exercises, then you are dead wrong.
You will be learning strategies that are not only backed up by exercise science, but by real world experience and practicality.
Depending on the severity of your back injury, applying these techniques will take you 1-6 months to fully recover.
Although this may appear long for some people, the good news is that once you’re recovered you will never have back pain again.
You’ll be able to compete in any sport you like, lift as heavy as you want, and be able to play with your kids if they ever request you to.
So take out a pen and paper, write down some notes, and we can begin.
Please view our Medical Disclaimer, this is not medical advice and I’m not responsible if anything bad happens. But you won’t do that. You’re smart and it’s not hard to follow these guidelines correctly.
Conditioning the Lower Back
Whenever you injur a certain area, whether that be your wrist, arm, leg, back, etc, you must always provide circulation and movement.
Remember, that which does not move is for the deceased. Without movement, there is only death.
Therefore, you can’t just sit around expecting these injuries to heal by themselves.
You must create movement in the damaged area, which will restore basic functionality.
For the back, you must condition it without having pain, while simultaneously creating spinal fluids which rejuvenate the back.
This may sound tricky and hard to believe, but it’s certainly possible.
There are two ways of doing this.
The first method is by getting yourself a pair of ankle weights, and wearing them throughout the entire day.
This will pump your back with spinal fluids the entire day right in the sacrum/lumbar area.
It’s the best way to get movement and circulation without back pain.
For the weights used, you can go with 1-10lb ankle weights depending on the severity of your back injury.
I personally recommend that you use the 10lb ankle weights, but if you have to use a lighter weight for whatever reason that can work too.
Just make sure that you keep them on the entire day. You must only take them off if you shower or go to bed.
Once you finally do take those weights off, you’ll feel lighter, and your back will have added range of motion with the pressure relieved.
If you feel uncomfortable wearing ankle weights throughout the day (which you shouldn’t care about if it’s going to fix your back) then you alternatively wear them at the gym exclusively.
To get similar/sub-par results from wearing them throughout the entire day in the gym, you can power walk on a treadmill set to an incline while wearing 10lb ankle weights. Do this for 10 minutes straight.
You may also choose this method in combination with the first. This will further speed up the recovery process.
Now if you want another way of conditioning the lower back besides ankle weights, you can always do sled dragging.
Walk forward, backwards, sideways, etc. Get some movement going on in that lower back.
Sled dragging really is a fantastic way of building and strengthening the posterior chain without lower back pain. It also builds tremendous work capacity and general fitness. Did I mention that it cures knee pain too?
Anyhow, If you don’t have access to a sled because it’s too expensive, then you can make your own sled at home.
A sled is literally an absolute must-have piece of equipment whether you’re injured or not. I still do my sled drags even though my back pain is 100% cured.
Just get yourself a cheap, used, rusty tire, and attach some rope to it. It will be the cheapest investment of your life, but will have the greatest returns you’ve ever seen.
Now we get to the most important segment of this article.
This is absolutely essential when trying to cure lower back pain.
You want to traction the hell out of your spine!
If you don’t know what traction is, here is the official medical definition.
“Medicine/Medical. the deliberate and prolonged pulling of a muscle, organ, or the like, as by weights, to correct dislocation, relieve pressure, etc.”
In simplest terms, you are pulling/lengthening the damage area, causing the pain to go in and out, which eventually fixes the problem completely.
It’s similar to how when you break your leg, you need to start walking on it again.
You put a little bit of pressure here and there, which evolves over time to the point where you can fully stand on two legs and run again.
This is traction.
Pain coming in + pain coming out = Pressure relived over time.
I hope it does, because everything from this point forward is going to be about traction.
It is FUNDAMENTAL to curing your lower back pain.
Now enough ranting for me, here are some practical and functional exercises that must use which will traction the spine thus curing any bulging disks you have, which relieves all pressure.
EXERCISE 1: Reverse Hyperextension
The reverse hyper (slang term) is the best traction exercise for the lower back.
You are lying down on your stomach, bringing your legs down so you are looking at your feet, and then forcefully contracting your abs as you straighten your legs out behind you so they are almost even with your glutes.
It may sound like the exercise “supermans”, but it’s not.
In fact, it’s far from this movement.
Unlike supermans, the reverse hyper gives you full extension of the back thus restoring range of motion, and simultaneously does not hyperextend the lower back.
It’s truly a phenomenal exercise, and it is bound to cure any lower back pain that you have if you do it long enough.
I remember when I first injured my back, I couldn’t do anything. Good mornings, hyperextensions, supermans, stretching, EVERYTHING.
The only exercise I was still able to do was reverse hypers.
I trained them every day, and after a month all of my back pain was gone and I could now do squats, deadlifts, good mornings, etc.
The whole nine yards.
I’m not the only guy that had a similar experience to this either.
In fact, the sole reason why I started doing reverse hypers was because of a man named Louie Simmons.
Louie Simmons, the owner of the Westside Barbell gym, broke his back 2 times in the past.
Doctors told him that he would require surgery, and would have difficulties walking again.
Louie, as persistent as he was, decided not to get surgery, and instead sought to strengthen his lower back the manual way.
He tried every exercise under the sun, and all of them hurt his lower back.
Long story short, one day he thought to himself “What if I just do hyperextensions in reverse?”.
Low and behold, there was no pain from this new-found exercise, and soon enough his back pain was cured.
This was the reverse hyper.
And guess what? A year later he squatted 900lbs.
Can you imagine that?
This is a guy that was almost handicapped, yet fixed his back with one exercise.
I hope you can learn a lesson from Louie’s story, because it is truly inspirational and demonstrates the effectiveness of the reverse hyperextension exercise.
I know it worked for me, and I’m certain that it will work for you too.
Please start doing them every day, and every time you go to the gym.
If you don’t have a reverse hyper machine, then you can always perform them the ghetto way.
In fact, Louie himself only invented the machine AFTER he fixed his lower back.
So to do reverse hypers the ghetto way, just line up two 2x12s in a power rack, lean over it, and do the reverse hypers.
For added resistance, you can attach a belt between your feet, and throw some weights on there.
Now if you’re at home, just lean over a coffee table, couch, bed, etc and do them that way.
5 sets of 20 repetitions work best. Make sure you fully stretch the lower back to the point where you are looking down at your feet at the bottom. When coming up, raise your head and make sure that your feet are NOT even with your glutes. All hyperextension is bad, okay?
That concludes the reverse hyper. IT’S A MUST-DO exercise if you have lower back pain.
EXERCISE 2: Lat Pulldown
Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
You injured your back, and I’m telling you to do lat pulldowns?
I’ll tell you why it works though.
It tractions the lower back because the weight of the cable is trying to pull you up. Due to your knees being locked, and your ass being firmly planted in the seat, this creates an amazing sensation in the lower back that relieves pressure.
It also traction the upper back, which is great for re-establishing proper posture.
You have to try it to know what I’m saying.
It’s pulling the back, yes, but not in a painful way.
When you’re done a set, you feel quite good, almost as if some asian chick gave you a mini massage.
At the same time, you will be strengthening the pulling mechanics of the back while providing traction to the whole back. It’s win/win in every possible way.
Exercise 3: Hanging Leg Raises
To cure lower back pain, there are two things that must happen.
1) Condition + Traction Lower Back
2) Strengthen Muscles Around Damaged Area
So far, all of these exercises have been doing that, but the hanging leg raise takes things to the next level.
This is the movement that tractions the ENTIRE spine, all the way from cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacrum area, while simultaneously strengthening the abdominal muscles and restoring range of motion.
The first time you do it (if your back pain is legit) you will have trouble doing it with the knees bent.
I mean, I was a gynmnast and calisthenics master that was able to do L-Sits, Front Levers, Dragon Flags, etc, and I had trouble doing it with the knees bent.
It also hurt my back a bit.
However, like all traction exercise, the pain eventually goes away, and strength goes up.
In my case, I went from barely being able to do leg raises with bent knees, to doing full front levers. in exactly two weeks of doing the exercise every day.
You can expect similar results, because that is the power of leg raises. You get full traction and strengthening at the same time.
If you superset these with reverse hyperextensions, the effect will be even more profound. Try it and become a believer.
Exercise 4: Bodyweight Good Mornings
This is an exercise I learned from Bill Starr.
I included them at the end of this article, because most of you won’t be able to do this unless you mastered the previous exercises.
Bodyweight Good Mornings are truly the final test of your lower back strength and flexibility.
If you can bring your nipples to your knees without experiencing ANY lower back pain, then you are most likely cured.
Therefore, this will be your “tester” exercise.
Do them very briefly in the morning, beginning of the day, and at night time.
It will traction the back slightly, while restoring range of motion in the lower back.
Once you can fully do it without pain, start performing it with a broomstick.
Do 3 sets of 50 reps at least once a day.
Once that becomes easy, start doing these with 10lbs on your back. Then 20lbs, 30lbs, 40lbs, 50lbs, etc. By the 95lb mark, you can start lowering the reps to 10-20.
Eventually you’ll forget that you even had a lower back problem.
Thanks Bill Starr.
That’s it my brothers.
You now have all the necessary information to cure back pain.
Any bulging disks, pinched nerves, etc that you may have developed will soon be eradicated by the 1-6 month mark.
As discussed you must first condition the back by restoring movement and circulation in the back through walking with ankle weights and doing sled pulls.
Then you need to traction the lower back with special exercises which includes reverse hypers, lat pulldowns, leg raises, and bodyweight good mornings.
With all these tools, I am confident that your back health will be in good condition once more, and that you will continue being able to lift some heavy ass weights and making some muscles gains.
Remember, don’t be shy to send me an email a couple months from now explaining how good your back feels.
I would love to hear your success story.