The following is the start of a subseries of Functionally Fit exercises aiming to boost lower back strength and also assist those with lower back problems.

    See 'Related Resources' below for past Functionally Fits and other exercises and training tips.


    Prone Prop

    Prop your upper body up by resting on the forearms while keeping the hips and lower body on the floor. Begin with one to two minutes, and progress up to five minutes. Following the prone prop exercise, move into prone press-ups.

    Prone Press-up

    Position the hands beneath the shoulders.

    Slowly press up by extending the elbows, keeping the hips on the ground throughout.

    Pause at the top of the available range of motion, and lower back down. Repeat for one to two sets of five to 10 repetitions.

    These two exercises are ideal for clients suffering from mechanical lower back pain. Clients who sit all day or work in forward/bent over positions develop poor posture and mechanical stress related to a prolonged flexed posture. Utilizing these two simple exercises daily will promote better spinal mobility and help avoid soft tissue flexibility imbalances. In addition, it will lower the risk of sciatica and discogenic pain.

    Additional Notes
    Always instruct clients to move through a pain-free range of motion. Use extreme caution with any clients experiencing active sciatica or referred symptoms (numbness, tingling or referred pain down into one or both legs). If clients exhibit these symptoms, they should be referred to a physician for evaluation prior to beginning these exercises. These exercises are also not typically indicated for clients with spinal stenosis as end range extension may aggravate their condition.

    Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS (www.brianschiff.com) is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. He became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in 1998. In 2000, he opened his own personal training and sport-specific conditioning facility, Fitness Edge, in Dublin, Ohio. Brian has presented at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention and sport-specific training.