What exercises to do for lower back pain
Updated: Apr 26
Whether you lift weights at the gym or spend hours working at your home office, a healthy back is essential to your overall wellbeing. Keeping physical fitness in check will reduce back pain over time.
Many strenuous activities over time can contribute to lower back pain symptoms, so it's important to know what exercise options are available. If you are looking for some simple exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home that may assist in shifting low back pain being experienced, give the following a go:
What is lower back pain?
Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, weak back muscles, injury, or ageing. It is also common for people to experience lower back pain due to their occupation, particularly if it involves repetitive tasks or long periods of sitting. Symptoms of lower back pain can range from mild discomfort to sharp pain that makes it difficult to move.
Some common causes of lower back pain include:
Strained muscles or ligaments: Overuse, repetitive motion, or a sudden awkward movement can strain the muscles and ligaments in your back, causing pain and stiffness.
Herniated or ruptured discs: Discs are the cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. If one of these discs slips out of place, it can put pressure on the surrounding nerves, causing pain.
Arthritis: Osteoarthritis can cause the breakdown of the cartilage in your spine, leading to pain and stiffness.
Osteoporosis: This condition can cause your vertebrae to become brittle and weak, making them more susceptible to fractures and compression.
The good news is that exercise can help alleviate lower back pain, regardless of its cause. By strengthening your back muscles and improving your flexibility, you can reduce the risk of future pain and improve your overall back health.
3 exercises for lower back pain
Have you been stressing about lower back pain symptoms but have no idea where to start for relieving tension?
Simple hamstring stretch
Do you go for daily jogs or play a sport? Not only can stretching the hamstring muscles relieve low back pain, but it is also great for the buttock muscles and stretching the legs for peak athletic performance.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight and keep your feet flat, extending your arms and bending your waist as far as possible. Do this while keeping your knees in a straight line.
Body weight squat
Not only is this exercise simple, but it will help your body move better throughout the day. With your feet shoulder-width apart, hands behind your head and knees bent to a right angle, lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds, and then return to the first position. Easy and effective!
Knee to chest stretch
The knee to chest stretch is great for pain relief, removing any excess tension from your body. Lay flat on the floor, keeping your knees bent and your feet flat. Pull your right knee towards your chest with two hands, holding and releasing after 30 seconds, and do the same to the opposite leg. Feel free to bring both knees to your chest for a better stretch!
For an alternative exercise that can be done anywhere, roll your shoulders backward and in circles, slowly turn your head from side to side, press your shoulder blades together, hold, and then repeat.
Must-try exercises for lower back pain relief
In addition to stretches, there are several exercises that can help to relieve lower back pain and strengthen your back muscles. Here are some must-try exercises to add to your routine:
The Superman exercise is an effective way to strengthen your back muscles. Begin by lying on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you. Slowly lift your arms, legs, and chest off the ground, holding for a few seconds before releasing back to the starting position.
Bridges can help to build core strength and improve your spine health. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the ground, holding for a few seconds before releasing back to the starting position.
Bird dog exercise
The Bird Dog exercise can help to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles. Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly extend one arm and the opposite leg, holding for a few seconds before returning to the starting position and repeating with the other arm and leg.
Pelvic tilts with one leg
Pelvic tilts with one leg can help to engage your glutes and improve pelvic stability. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift one leg off the ground, tilting your pelvis towards your belly button. Hold for a few seconds before releasing back to the starting position and repeating with the other leg.
By incorporating these exercises and stretches into your daily routine, you can help to relieve lower back pain and build strength in your back muscles. However, it's important to perform exercises and stretches safely to avoid further injury. In the next section, we will share some tips for performing exercises and stretches safely.
Tips for performing exercises and stretches safely
When it comes to exercising to alleviate lower back pain, safety is key. Performing exercises and stretches incorrectly can cause further injury or exacerbate existing pain. Here are some tips for performing exercises and stretches safely:
Before you begin any exercise or stretch, make sure you are in the correct starting position. For example, when doing the knee-to-chest stretch, ensure that your lower back is pressed into the floor and your neck and shoulders are relaxed.
Maintaining proper form is crucial to performing exercises and stretches safely. This means using the correct posture and alignment during the exercise. For example, when performing the bridge exercise, make sure your knees are directly over your ankles and your shoulders are directly over your wrists.
It's important to perform exercises and stretches in the correct number of repetitions. This will help to build strength and flexibility without overworking your muscles. Start with a small number of repetitions and gradually increase as you become stronger.
Avoiding common mistakes can help to prevent further injury and pain. For example, when performing the Bird Dog exercise, keep your back straight and avoid twisting your spine. Or, when doing the pelvic tilt exercise, avoid arching your back too much, which can put undue stress on your spine.
Tips for Preventing Lower Back Pain
Preventing lower back pain is key to maintaining good back health. Here are some tips for preventing lower back pain:
Regular exercise can help to strengthen your back muscles and reduce the risk of future episodes of pain. Incorporate exercises and stretches into your daily routine to build strength and flexibility.
Maintain good posture
Good posture is crucial to maintaining a healthy spine. Make sure you sit and stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your chin level. Avoid slouching or hunching over.
Lift with care
When lifting heavy objects, make sure to use proper lifting techniques. This means lifting with your legs, not your back, and avoiding twisting your spine.
Staying active throughout the day can help to prevent lower back pain. Take breaks from sitting or standing for extended periods of time, and incorporate regular movement into your day.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight can put extra strain on your back muscles and lead to pain. Maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Lower back pain exercises to avoid
Are you experiencing lower back pain during your workout? Understanding what exercises are causing discomfort not only helps you feel more energised, improves your mood and gets your body moving, but reducing pain will contribute to a more positive experience.
Sometimes leg lifting can relieve lower back issues and help reduce backaches. They are effective at strengthening stomach muscles, which is crucial for back health.
Unfortunately lying on your back and lifting them together will worsen back pain. Try this modified leg lift to reduce lower back problems rather than using a leg lift.
This is known as a good warm-up activity, but standing toe touches can also lead to mild discomfort. Toe touches while standing can increase the risk of sciatica, so you don't want to risk straining your lower back muscles. Try out the bird dog exercise as an alternative.
Sit-ups are generally used in any workout routine. However, this can put a lot of pressure on the spinal cord and contribute to lower back issues and make the pain worse. Ideally, you want a gentle stretch.
Lifting both legs with your back flat on the floor won't help back pain but aggravate it. Single leg raises are a much more effective alternative, as they work both the upper body and lower body, building strength over time.
If you do have lower back pain, consider consulting a physiotherapist to determine the best course of rehabilitation. Professional advice, planned exercise programs and individualised treatment are highly recommended when experiencing discomfort.