Lower back exercises for back pain

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Lower back pain isn’t something that will go away on its own.

There are, however, a series of exercise routines you can do to reduce the pain, including soreness, tension, and stiffness.

The following exercises are designed to help stretch, strengthen and mobilise the lower back.

When you are starting out, begin gently to get used to the movements and work out how far you can go into each position without experiencing any pain.

Try to do the below routine at least once a day, if the pain allows. You can complement this routine with additional activities such as cycling, walking and water-based activities.

Be sure to speak to a physiotherapist before starting these exercises!

Heels stretch

What it does: Stretches and mobilises the spine

Start position: Kneel on all fours with your knees level with your hips and hands directly beneath your shoulders. Avoid over-arching your lower back and keep your neck long, shoulders back and don’t lock your elbows.

Then slowly lower yourself backwards whilst maintaining the natural curve in the spine. Hold this position for one deep breath and return to the starting position.

Repeat this 8-10 times.

Tips: 

  • Avoid sitting back on your heels if you have a knee problem
  • Use a mirror to correctly position yourself
  • Remember to only stretch as far as it feels comfortable

Knee rolls

What it does: Stretches and mobilises the spine.

Start position: Lie backwards while resting your head on a small flat cushion. Bring your knees up, keeping them bent and together with your feet still on the floor and stretch your arms out, palms facing the floor.

With your knees still bent, roll your knees to the one side, following with your pelvis and keeping both shoulders on the floor. Hold the stretch for one deep breath and return to the starting position.

Repeat this exercise 8-10 times, alternating sides.

Tips:

  • Move only as far as you can
  • If needed, place a cushion between your knees for comfort

Back extensions

What is does: Stretches and mobilises the spine backwards.

Start position: Lie flat on your stomach, then proceed to prop yourself up onto your elbows to lengthen your spine. Keep neck long and shoulders back.

From your starting position, arch your back up by pushing downwards on your hands. You should feel a gentle pull on the stomach muscles while arching. Breathe in and hold for 5-10 seconds, then return to the starting position.

Repeat 8-10 times.

Tips:

  • Keep neck long and don’t bend it backwards
  • Ensure your hips are kept grounded.

Deep abdominal strengthening

What it does: Strengths the deep supporting muscles around the spine.

Start position: Begin how you would when doing knee rolls exercises (see above).

After an intake of breath, while you breathe out, draw up the muscles of your pelvis and lower abdominals. Hold this contraction while breathing from your abdomen for 5-10 breaths, then relax.

Repeat this exercise 5 times.

Tips:

  • Don’t tense up through the neck, shoulders or legs.

Pelvic tilts

What it does: Strengthens and stretches the lower back.

Start position: Again, start how you would for knee rolls.

Gently push your lower back into the ground and contract your stomach muscles. Then tilt your pelvis towards your heels until you feel a gentle arch in your lower back, feeling your back muscles contracting and return to the starting position.

Repeat this 10-15 times, tilting your pelvis back and forth in a rocking motion.

Tips:

  • Keep your deep abdominal muscles working throughout
  • Don’t tense up through the neck

Contact a Birmingham physiotherapist for assistance with lower back pain, and more helpful tips.