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Standing lower back exercises will help reduce stiffness, strengthen the muscles around your spine, and improve blood circulation.
They are handy for anyone who works a desk job or has prolonged periods of sitting.
Without further fluff, let’s go over these exercises so you can start building muscle and/or rid yourself of lower back pain.
Table of Contents
Can You Really Work Your Low Back While Standing?
Unlike from a lying or seated position, performing low back exercises while standing requires greater activation of the lumbar stabilizers.
These motions involve bending or twisting, which engages your abdominal muscles, erector spinae, hamstrings, and glutes.
These are vital for maintaining a strong, healthy low back and prevent you from falling over during exercise.
15 Standing Exercises for Your Lower Back
All of these exercises are performed from a standing position while maintaining a neutral lower spine.
For your safety, please consult with a physical therapist before attempting them.
1. Side Bend
Side bends target the obliques and rectus abdominis.
These help the spine retain its natural curvature and are among the first to deteriorate with age.
Luckily, regular stimulation will delay the onset of atrophy.
- Assume an upright stance
- Hold a dumbbell in your left-hand
- Bend your torso to the left side to feel a stretch on the opposite side
- Return to the starting position and repeat for reps before switching to the other side
2. Warrior Balance
The warrior balance is a yoga pose for practicing coordination and flexibility.
It incorporates a kickback and front raise motion for core and posterior chain activation and is often used for opening and relaxing the body.
- Begin by balancing on one leg
- Lean your upper body forward
- Extend your arms outwards and your free leg straight back
- Hold this pose for a few seconds without bending the standing leg
- Then, move your torso upright, press your hands together, and lift that one knee to your chest
- Repeat this sequence and switch to the other leg
3. Good Morning
Good mornings are a controversial, yet sought-after exercise within the powerlifting community.
This is because you can see big carry over for your squat and deadlift numbers, but many people do them with a rounded spine or use too much weight.
These are big no-nos.
The movement is typically done with a safety bar for comfort reasons, but a barbell or thin pole will do just fine.
Eccentric contractions are on another level (in a good way), especially for the low back, hamstrings, and glutes.
You’ll also get a chance to work on your hip hinge if that’s something you struggle with.
- Assume a shoulder-width stance with the bar on your upper back
- Hinge back with your core tight and knees bent slightly
- Lean your torso forward until you feel a stretch in your back and hamstrings
- Reverse to the starting position
4. Standing Extension
Standing extensions are a low-impact exercise for releasing tension in the lumbar spine and posterior chain.
Plus, it’s going to loosen up your abdomen as you lean back.
- Stand with a tall posture and hands on your sides
- Hip thrust forward
- Bend your head backward to create an arch in your back
- Hold this position for 2 seconds before returning to the starting position
5. Knee To Elbow
The knee-to-elbow is a functional movement for the obliques.
You’ll be improving mobility and stability by utilizing a slight twisting motion with your core engaged.
- Place your fingers on your ears
- Raise your left knee toward your chest, touching it to your right elbow by twisting your torso
- Reset, then do the same motion with your right knee and left elbow
6. Kettle Bell Swing
Kettlebell swings provide a full-body workout for explosiveness, strength, and endurance.
Not only do they target the hip and trunk stabilizers, but also help shoulder mobility.
Be sure to keep your biceps relaxed and legs fairly straight while swinging the kettlebell.
And ALWAYS maintain tightness in your core and use a comfortable pace, as unnecessary momentum may lead to injury.
- With the bell between your feet, squat down and pick it up with an overhand grip
- Squeeze your armpits together
- Thrust forward to create momentum for the forward swing
- Hinge back and bend forward slightly as the bell goes between your legs, then thrust forward again
- Repeat this motion for reps
7. Romanian Deadlift
Romanian deadlifts are my go-to compound exercise for hypertrophy training my hamstrings and buttocks.
However, due to the mechanics, your spinal erectors will be used to hold your back in a neutral position.
You can perform this move using a barbell or dumbbells.
Just make sure to keep your head facing forward while engaging your lats and core to eliminate neck impingements or rounding over.
- Take a neutral stance with your legs straight
- Hold the weights in front of your waist
- Move your hips backward and bend forward
- Stop once the weights are at about mid-shin height
- Return to the starting position
You can take this move a step further by using a single dumbbell in a staggered stance.
This emphasizes the front leg.
8. Figure 8
If you’ve been sitting all day and blood flow is restricted then figure 8’s are the way.
They’ll open your hips and lubricate the joints around your low back.
This way you can stay loose and pain-free in and out of the office.
- Stand upright and plant your feet on the ground
- Move your right hip up and out
- Bring it back to the starting position
- Move your left hip up and out
- Continue this sequence by alternating each direction
9. Twisting Wall Stretch
Who knew getting intimate with a wall could be so relaxing?
I mean it’s the perfect leverage point to get a nice, deep stretch in your lumbar.
Plus, you can twist as far or as little as you feel necessary without overstraining.
- Stand sideways next to a wall
- Rotate your upper body toward the wall and press your hands into it until you feel a gentle stretch for 5-10 seconds
- Release your body to the forward-facing position
- Repeat for 1-2 sets and switch to the other side
10. Rotational Lateral Lunge
Ever heard of the lumbo-pelvic hip complex?
Well, now you have.
It’s vital for transferring power between upper and lower body regions during activities like running, jumping, and weight lifting.
Lateral lunges require this system to stay neutral while the addition of upward rotation mobilizes the upper back and t-cage.
- Lunge laterally on your left leg
- Lean your body so that it’s parallel to the floor
- Plant your left arm into the ground
- Rotate your right arm toward the ceiling
- Slowly lower it to the floor and repeat for desired reps
- Reset to perform the lunge with the right leg
11. Toe Touches
- Standing with your feet together and arms overhead
- Slowly bring your body and hands toward your feet
- Hold for 5-10 seconds before extending upward
Use your body weight as leverage to pull your posterior into a stretched position.
12. Dumbbell Wood Chop
Here’s an interesting way to use a dumbbell for your abdominals.
Focus on keeping your core engaged and moving your body in one fluid motion.
- Grasp a single dumbbell with both hands
- Turn your body to the right
- Lift the DB overhead like it’s an axe
- Swing it down your body, making sure to plant the toes of your opposite leg
Turn your opposite shoulder and pivot your rear leg onto the ball of your foot to build alignment as you twist from side to side.
13. Standing Knee Raise Twist
You should feel this exercise in your core and lumbar region.
It’s also going to open up your chest cavity, allowing you to breathe deeply.
- Place your palms on the sides of your head
- Raise your right knee toward your chest
- Twist your left elbow in the same direction
- Lower your foot back to the ground
- Repeat with the opposite knee and elbow
14. Bent-Over Row
This is a versatile exercise that can either be low impact by using a resistance band or strength focused with dumbbells or a barbell.
Although the main focus is on the lats and rhomboids, your spinal erectors will still be engaged through an isometric contraction.
- Start in the upright position with your resistance of choice in hand
- Hinge your hips back with your knees slightly bent
- Bend over so your torso is roughly 70 degrees to the floor
- With your shoulders protracted, pull your elbows up toward your belly button
- Stopping once your arms are bent at 90 degrees and shoulders are retracted
- Reverse the motion down by fully extending your arms
15. Standing Lunge Twist
This is fairly similar to the standing knee raise twist.
However, instead of alternating, you’ll be twisting to one side at a time for greater relief.
- Lunge forward with one foot
- Stick your chest up and pull your shoulders back
- Straighten your arms by your sides and lean forward
- Raise your arms overhead while engaging your core
- Cross your hands on the back of your head
- Twist in the direction of your front foot for 10-15 reps
- Repeat on the opposite side
How Often Should You Do Each Exercise?
If you are intent on reducing low back pain, then performing these exercises for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps will be plenty.
Pick 1-3 and do them at least once or twice a week.
For strength and muscular gains, you should consider doing 2-4 sets for 10-15 reps two to three days per week.
FAQ About Standing Back Exercises
How Do You Loosen Tight Lower Back Muscles While Standing?
You can loosen tight lower back muscles while standing by performing lumbar extensions.
From a standing position:
– Place your hands on your hips
– Lean your upper body backward to create an arch in your back
– Reverse to the upright position and repeat for 5-10 reps
How Can I Strengthen My Lower Back While Standing?
You can strengthen your lower back while standing with an exercise called the kettlebell swing.
From the starting position:
– Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width
– Squat down to pick up the bell with an overhand grip
– With your legs and arms straight, slightly hinge your hips
– Thrust them forward
– Swing the bell in between your legs and then straight forward again
– Continue doing this at a comfortable tempo
Relieve Lower Back Pain With These Exercises!
Now that you know which back exercises can be done while standing, be sure to take advantage of your favorites.
Some of these are ideal for stretching away the tension after a long day’s work.
Others will promote strength and stability so you can walk, talk, and sit with a healthy posture.