If you are suffering from low back pain, this is often caused by a weak gluteus medius muscle. The gluteus medius is one of the three gluteal muscles. It is located on the upper buttock underneath the gluteus maximus muscle, and it works to support the hip. When the gluteus medius is weak it causes decreased range of motion in the hips, which causes the body to overcompensate for the lack of function and use other muscles in the body improperly.
To stabilize the hips and lower spine the body will use the back muscles in place of the weak glute muscles. This adds pressure and stress to the low back and increases the load on the spine. Strengthening the gluteus medius muscles helps to support the lower back, and reduces pain and incidence of compression in the lumbar spine.
Bridge Pose, a foundational, accessible yoga pose, is one of the best ways to strengthen both the glutes and lower back to relieve back pain and reduce the risk of injury. Start by lying flat on your back. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms down by your hips and place your palms flat on the floor. Try to get your heels up to touch your fingertips to achieve proper alignment. Press into the heels, contract the glutes, and begin to lift the hips off of the floor. Only press up as far as is comfortable, and keep the shoulder blades on the ground.
Hold Bridge Pose for 3-5 breaths OR press up and down slowly for 10 reps. Remember to keep the thighs parallel and firm, keep the tailbone pointing toward the knees to keep the lower back long, and breathe out as you press the hips up.
Start by practicing this pose 3-5 times per week for four weeks. If the pain has reduced, work up to practicing 5-7 times per week. Notice the decrease in back pain, and consider adding additional yoga poses into your practice to further stretch and strengthen your body.