Low Back Pain: Exercises to Reduce Pain

Low Back Pain: Exercises to Reduce Pain

Low back pain is very common among adults and is often caused by overuse and muscle strain or injury. Treatment can help you stay as active as possible. And it will help you understand that some continued or repeated back pain is not surprising or dangerous.

Exercises to reduce low back pain are not complicated and can be done at home without any special equipment.

Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program, and only do exercises that do not increase your symptoms.

The most effective exercise programs for chronic low back pain are designed specifically for you and are supervised.

Tips to get you started before you start Low Back Exercises

  • Get some type of aerobic exercise, such as walking, every day. Even a couple of minutes will be helpful, and you can gradually increase your time.
  • Choose a couple of stretching and strengthening exercises that you enjoy doing, or vary them from day to day.
  • Ask your doctor or physical therapist whether there are additional exercises that will work best for you.
  • Most people who have back pain naturally feel better by doing certain motions.
  • Some feel better sitting (their back and hips are flexed).
  • Others feel better standing (back and hips are extended).
  • Exercise that moves you toward your more comfortable position is usually more successful in treating your back pain.
  • If you are more comfortable sitting down, exercises that bend you forward—such as partial sit-ups (curl-ups) and knee-to-chest exercises—may help you.


A.Exercises to try if your back pain is eased by standing or lying down:

1.Alternate arm and leg (bird dog)Pin on Fit as a violin

Perform this exercise slowly as you keep your body straight at all times, and don’t let one hip drop lower than the other.

  1. Start on the floor, on your hands and knees.
  2. Tighten your stomach muscles.
  3. Raise one leg off the floor and hold it straight out behind you.
  4. Be careful not to let your hip drop down, because that will twist your trunk.
  5. Hold for about 6 seconds, then lower your leg and switch to the other leg.
  6. Repeat 8 to 12 times on each leg.
  7. Over time, work up to holding for 10 to 30 seconds each time.
  8. If you feel stable and secure with your leg raised, try raising the opposite arm straight out in front of you at the same time.


2.Backward bend

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Do not lock your knees.
  2. Place your hands on your back, palms at your waist.
  3. Lengthen up through your spine, all the way through the crown of your head.
  4. Keeping your legs straight, bend backward over your hands without arching your neck.
  5. Hold the pose for 1 to 2 seconds.
  6. Return to standing. Repeat 3 to 10 times.
Woman doing a backward bend

3.Bridging Exercise

A person practicing bridge exercise
  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A).
  2. Keeping your shoulders and head relaxed on the floor, tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles.
  3. Then raise your hips to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders (B).
  4. Try to hold the position long enough to complete three deep breaths.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  6. Start with 5 repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30 Reps.

4.Hip flexor stretch

Best Hip Flexor Stretching GIFs | Gfycat

Hip flexor stretch (edge of table)
  1. Lie flat on your back on a table or flat bench, with your knees and lower legs hanging off the edge of the table.
  2. Grab your good leg at the knee, and pull that knee back toward your chest. …
  3. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

5.Press-up back extensions

  1. Lie on your stomach, with your face down. Keep your elbows tucked into your sides under your shoulders.
  2. Press your elbows down into the floor to raise your upper back.
  3. As you do this, relax your stomach muscles and allow your back to arch without using your back muscles.
  4. Let your low back relax completely as you arch up. Don’t let your hips or pelvis come off the floor.
  5. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then relax, and return to the start position.
  6. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

6.Relax and rest

B.Exercises to try if your back pain is eased by sitting down:

Do you want to prevent back pain? Try these exercises to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles. Repeat each exercise a few times, then increase the repetitions as the exercise gets easier.

1.Double knee-to-chest

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.Best Knees To Chest GIFs | Gfycat
  2. Bring one knee to your chest and then the other.
  3. Don’t raise both legs together.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Relax and lower your legs-one at a time-to the floor.
  6. Rest for 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat 2 to 4 times.


2.Piriformis stretch

  1. Lie on your back. Bend your right knee so that your right foot is flat on the floor.
  2. Cross your left leg over your right so that your left ankle rests on your right knee.
  3. Use your hands to grab hold of your left knee and pull it gently toward the opposite shoulder. You should feel the stretch in your buttocks and hips.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Relax, and then repeat with the other leg.
  6. Repeat this cycle 2 to 4 times.
Picture of how to do the piriformis stretch
Credits:Joan Rigg PT, OCS – Physical Therapy


3.Single knee-to-chest

7 Lower Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Build Strength

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
  2. Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest
  3. Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg
  6. Return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time
  7. Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.

C.Exercises to try when no position eases your back pain:

  1. Cat-camel

    1. Get down on your hands and knees on the floor.
    2. Relax your head, and allow it to droop.
    3. Round your back up toward the ceiling until you feel a nice stretch in your upper, middle, and lower back.
    4. Hold this stretch for as long as it feels comfortable, or about 15 to 30 seconds.
    5. Return to the starting position with a flat back while you are on all fours.
    6. Let your back sway by pressing your stomach toward the floor.
    7. Lift your buttocks toward the ceiling.
    8. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
    9. Repeat 2 to 4 times.


    Picture of how to do the cat-camel exercise

  2. Clamshell Exercise

    1. Lie on your side, with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle.

      Clam Exercise GIF - Clam Exercise Workout - Discover & Share GIFs

    2. Rest your head on your lower arm, and use your top arm to steady your frame. Be sure that your hipbones are stacked on top of one another, as there is a tendency for the top hip to rock backward.
    3. Engage your abdominals by pulling your belly button in, as this will help to stabilize your spine and pelvis.
    4. Keeping your feet touching, raise your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis. Don’t move your lower leg off the floor.
    5. Pause, and then return your upper leg to the starting position on the ground. Do 20 reps on each side.
  3. Curl-ups Exercise

    Sit-Ups Benefits: Exercises, Variations, and More                                                                        Step 1
    Lie down on an exercise mat. Arms straight forward, palms down.

    Step 2
    Contract the abs, curl up. Move hands toward heels. Keep head up.

    Step 3
    Return to starting point. Repeat.

  4. Front plank

    1. Get down on your knees and elbows.
    2. Now straighten your legs, one at a time, so that you are supporting your body on your elbows and toes.
    3. Hold for 6 seconds. Over time, build up to 30 seconds.
    4. Rest for 10 seconds.
    5. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
    Picture of how to do the front plank exercise
  5. Hamstring stretch

    Picture of the hamstring stretch in a doorway
    1. Lie on your back in a doorway, with one leg through the open door.
    2. Slide your leg up the wall to straighten your knee.
    3. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg. Hold the stretch for at least 1 minute.
    4. As the days go by, add a little more time until you can relax and let these muscles stretch for as much as
    5. 6 minutes for each leg.
    6. Do not arch your back.
    7. Do not bend either knee.
    8. Keep one heel touching the floor and the other heel touching the wall.
    9. Do not point your toes.
    10. Repeat with your other leg.
    11. Do 2 to 4 times for each leg.

  6. Pelvic rock, sitting

    1. Sit in a comfortable, neutral position, with your feet flat on the floor and your buttocks near the front of the seat.
    2. Gently roll your shoulders forward. Feel the weight move backward on your “sit” bones.
    3. Now straighten up slowly, rolling your hips and lower spine forward while your shoulders move back up.
    4. Repeat 8 to 12 times, gently rocking your pelvis backward and forward.
    Picture of how to do the sitting pelvic-rock exercise
  7. Pelvic rock, standing

    • Stand in a comfortable, neutral position with your hands on your hips.
    • Gently rock the top of your hips backward, flattening your back. Your thumbs will turn down slightly.
    • Return to neutral position.
    • Now gently rock the top of your hips forward, arching your back. Your thumbs will turn up slightly.
    • Return to neutral position.
    • Repeat this gentle rocking motion 8 to 12 times.
    Picture of how to do the standing pelvic rock exercise
  8. Pelvic tilt Exercise

    • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
    • “Brace” your stomach-tighten your muscles by pulling in and imagining your belly button moving toward your spine. You should feel like your back is pressing to the floor and your hips and pelvis are rocking back.
    • Hold for about 6 seconds while breathing smoothly.
    • Repeat 8 to 12 times.
    Picture of the pelvic tilt exercise
  9. Side plank, beginner

    1. Lie on your side with your knees bent, and prop your upper body up on your elbow.
    2. Raise your hips off the floor, and hold for 6 seconds.
    3. Rest for 10 seconds.
    4. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
    Picture of how to do the beginner side-plank exercise
  10. Side plank, intermediate

    1. Lie on your side, and prop your upper body up on your elbow.
    2. Keeping your legs straight, lift your hips off the floor and hold for 6 seconds. Build up to at least 30 seconds over time.
    3. Rest for 30 seconds.
    4. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
    Picture of how to do the intermediate side-plank exercise
  11. Walking-Aerobic Exercises

    Aerobic exercise strengthens your lungs, heart, and blood vessels and can help you lose weight. Walking, swimming, and biking may all help reduce back pain.

    Start with short sessions and build up over time. If your back is hurting, try swimming, where the water supports your body. Avoid any strokes that twist your body.

  12. Wall sit

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




  1. Long A, et al. (2004). Does it matter which exercise? Spine, 29(23): 2593–2602.
  2. Hayden JA, et al. (2005). Systematic review: Strategies for using exercise therapy to improve outcomes in
  3. chronic low back pain. Annals of Internal Medicine, 142(9): 776–785.


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