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Exercises for Lower Back Pain: Strengthening and Relieving

Lower back pain can be a debilitating condition that affects many individuals. However, contrary to popular belief, resting may not always be the best solution. In fact, staying active and engaging in exercises specifically designed for lower back pain can help strengthen the back, stomach, and leg muscles, providing support to the spine and ultimately relieving back pain quickly. It is important to note that before incorporating any exercise routine into your lifestyle, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure the exercises are suitable for your specific condition. Certain exercises may not be recommended and can even be harmful depending on the cause and intensity of your pain.

The Benefits of Exercise for Low Back Pain

Exercise has been proven to be beneficial for low back pain; however, not all exercises provide the same benefits. It is essential to choose exercises that are suitable for your condition and perform them correctly to avoid any further pain or injury. When starting an exercise program, it is common to experience mild discomfort. However, this discomfort should disappear as your muscles become stronger. If the pain is more than mild and lasts for more than 15 minutes during exercise, it is advised to stop exercising and consult with a doctor. Certain exercises may aggravate pain, such as standing toe touches, which can put excessive stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine, as well as overstretch lower back muscles and hamstrings.

Stretching Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Stretching exercises can help alleviate lower back pain by improving flexibility and relieving tension in the muscles. 


person stretching his knee to his chest

Knee-to-chest stretch 

To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee towards your chest, clasping your hands around your knee. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then slowly lower your leg and repeat with the other leg. Perform 2 to 3 repetitions on each leg. 

Supine leg pull 

Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Loop a towel around one ankle and keep your other leg straight. Use the towel to pull your bent leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then slowly lower your leg and repeat with the other leg. Perform 2 to 3 repetitions on each leg.

Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Strengthening exercises are crucial for supporting the lower back and reducing pain. 

Bridge exercise 

To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Push through your heels and lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, then slowly lower your hips back down. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times.

Pelvic tilt 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides. Tighten your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis downward, pressing your lower back into the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds, then relax and repeat. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

Core-Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain

A strong core is essential for supporting the lower back and preventing pain. 

Cat-cow stretch 

Start on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. As you inhale, arch your back and lift your head and tailbone. As you exhale, round your back and tuck your chin to your chest. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times. 


person stretching her back in a cat posture

Prone leg lift

Begin by lying on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push with your hands to lift your shoulders off the floor. If comfortable, you can place your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds. This exercise is a great way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. It is important to avoid letting the lower back muscles sag and only lift the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.

Further Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief

In addition to the exercises mentioned above, there are several other exercises that can provide relief for lower back pain. The following exercises can be performed to strengthen the back, stomach, and leg muscles, ultimately supporting the spine and reducing pain:

Wall slides Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold the position for a count of 10, then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times.


two people doing wall sit strength exercise

Bird dog exercise Start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you while keeping your hips level. Hold for 5 seconds, then switch to the other leg. Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. For an added challenge, lift and extend your opposite arm for each repetition. This exercise is an excellent way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. It is important to avoid letting the lower back muscles sag and only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.

Abdominal bracing Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles by contracting them as though you were preparing for a punch. You should feel your back pressing into the floor and your hips and pelvis rocking back. Hold this position for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly. Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times.

Hip raises Lie on your back with your knees bent and just your heels on the floor. Push your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold the position for about 6 seconds, then slowly lower your hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times. It is important to avoid arching your lower back as your hips move upward. To prevent overarching, tighten your abdominal muscles prior to and throughout the lift.

Incorporating Weightlifting and Aerobic Exercises

When done correctly, lifting weights can actually help relieve chronic back pain. However, if you are experiencing acute back pain, it is essential to consult with your doctor before engaging in weightlifting exercises. Certain exercises should be avoided to prevent any additional stress on the back muscles and ligaments. Your doctor can provide guidance on which exercises are suitable for your condition.

Start Slowly and Keep Moving!

Incorporating exercises specifically designed for lower back pain into your daily routine can provide significant relief and strengthen the muscles that support your spine. It is important to choose the right exercises for your condition and perform them correctly to avoid any further pain or injury. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have acute back pain. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercises. If you experience any pain, stop the exercise and seek medical advice. With consistency and proper form, exercises for lower back pain can help improve your overall back health and enhance your quality of life.


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