What are Some Lower Back Pain Exercises?

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  • Written By: Leanne Lytle
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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The causes of lower back pain can be as varied as the number of people experiencing the pain. Whether back pain is abnormal or severe, a visit to a doctor is always advisable before beginning any kind of self-prescribed treatment program using these lower back pain exercises. Also, keep in mind that simple cardiovascular activities such as walking, swimming or bicycling for 20 to 30 minutes a day can help to alleviate pain as well.

Two simple lower back pain exercises are the pelvic tilt and knee-to-chest stretch. For the pelvic tilt, first lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Notice that the small of the back is not touching the floor while in this position. Now tighten the abdominal muscles so that the small of the back is pushed flat against the floor. Hold for five seconds. Relax abdominal muscles. Repeat this up to ten times.

Remain in this supine position for the knee-to-chest stretch. Keep knees bent. Take hold of the right leg behind the thigh above the knee. Pull this leg up to the chest while the left leg stays bent, foot on the floor. Hold this for 20 seconds. Relax. Repeat with left leg. Repeat up to four times with each leg.


Another good lower back pain exercise which requires staying close to the ground is the lower back stretch. Lay on the stomach instead of the back for this stretch. Lie flat with hands positioned above the shoulders on either side of the head. Slowly use arms to push the upper body off the floor. Pelvis should remain on the floor. This is not a push-up, so allow the back to sag. Hold for five seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat up to ten times.

Many exercises for the lower back utilize an exercise ball or wall for stabilization. These can be a bit more difficult at first. However, once practiced a few times, these exercises can be very effective at strengthening the back and relieving chronic pain.

Wall squats can be be done against any flat wall. Stand with back flat against the wall. Walk feet out 12 inches (30.48 cm) from the wall while keeping the back flat. Bend both knees to a 45 degree angle. Hold this for five seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat up to ten times.

There is also a variation of this exercise using an exercise ball. Instead of placing the back flat against the wall, place an exercise ball between the small of the back and the wall. Slowly bend knees from a 45 to a 90 degree angle. While bending the knees, raise hands overhead. This should be done slowly. Hold for five seconds. Straighten knees. Repeat up to ten times.

One other exercise with the exercise ball requires lying on your stomach over the ball. Your waist should be close to the front of the ball with most of the support being under the lower abdomen and pelvic area. Slowly raise alternate arms over head. Slowly raise alternate legs two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) from the floor. Now combine these movements by raising the right arm and left leg at the same time; then raise the left arm and right leg. Now bend the left knee and lift the leg so that the thigh is aligned with the rest of the body. Hold for five seconds, then do the right leg. Repeat up to ten times. Be sure not to arch the back during this exercise.

There are many other lower back pain exercises, but these are a few basics that are very effective and are a good beginning to an exercise program. However, as with any exercise program, be aware of what the body is capable of. If there is pain during any of these exercises, stop and seek professional attention.


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