Lower Back Exercises

By Moses Jacob, DC

Lower Back Exercises Overview

Lower Back Exercises are considered both a preventive as well as rehabilitative form of management of lower back problems. Lower Back Exercises improve muscle strength and thereby helps relieve many back pain difficulties. Lower Back Exercises help improve motion, and vertebral joint AKA facet’s, function. During lower back exercises, blood flow is increased thereby assisting in the body’s restorative healing processes. As function is improved, recurrence of pain events are minimized.

Remember to consult with a reputable Chiropractor, other health care provider or physical trainer prior to proceeding with any lower back exercises.

Lower Back Exercises to Consider

Williams Flexion: An abdominal strengthening program.

  1. Pelvic tilts: lie on floor or exercise mat. Contract abdominal muscles, pushing back flat onto floor. Breath slowly in on contracting abs, hold count of 5-10 seconds, repeat 10 times. Add more as you progress.
  2. Knee to chest: Lie flat, knees bend. Pull on knee at a time toward abdomen. 10 right, 10 left, 10 both knees.
  3. Crunches: Lie flat, raise head and torso up partially. contracting abdominals. 10-15, add more as you progress.
  4. Straight Leg raise: AKA Hamstring stretch. Lie down bend both knees, lift on leg up vertically, Have towel or rope to pull foot down towards the floor.

McKenzie Extension: Press-up Back Extensions

Designed to relieve leg and back pain from a disc protrusion.

  1. Lie on flat on stomach.
  2. Use both arms to push up torso from waist up, arch your back to a comfort zone.
  3. Keep your pelvis on the ground. Head looks up.
  4. Breathe in as you come up. Elbows may remain slightly bent.
  5. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  6. Exhale as you lie back down.
  7. Repeat ten times. As you progress arms can fully extend or lock the elbows.

Other Lower Back Exercises to Consider

  • Yoga: for back problems.
  • Cobra posture: similar to the McKenzie Extension above
  • Restful pose: Sit onto back of legs, i.e. knees bent with legs under you, feet pointing back. Bend forward at waist. Reach both arms forward. Bring torso towards the ground. Hold pose for 10-20 seconds. Breathing slowly.

NOTE: the above posture is NOT recommended for people with knee problems.

  • Bird Dog: Lie down hands and knees on floor. Extend one arm forward, while lifting opposite leg knee fully extended but parallel with floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for opposite arm and leg. Repeat up to 10 times.
  • Spine twist stretch. Lie flat on back i.e. supine. The knees bent with feet flat on the mat. The arms extended out away from body. Breath in while twisting both legs, and then pelvis to one side. This brings both knees toward the ground. Exhale. Then breath in again bringing legs to starting position. Repeat to the opposite side.

As pain is reduced and function improves advanced training exercise programs are recommended. Core strengthening using weights and gym equipment: add low impact aerobic activities.

Remember to consult your chiropractor or rehabilitation trainer before beginning any lower back exercises.

Pilates: A method of controlled movements. Studies have shown the approach helps improve movement and helps muscle conditioning. Consult a certified trained specialist for this method.

Exercise or posture to AVOID.

Toe touches: Bending at waist during periods of pain is NOT advisable. The mechanics of flexing at the waist can increase loads on injured or inflamed tissues.

Prolonged sitting is also not recommended.