Exercise for Lower Back Pain

​Previously, we provided reasons about why exercise is important for lower back pain. Knowing that exercise is important is half the battle—the other half is doing the right exercises. Here are some exercises you can do at home to relieve lower back pain between chiropractic treatments.

Safe Exercise Tips

Exercising is sound advice for lower back pain in many cases, but not every type of exercise activity is helpful, and may even be harmful. To avoid injury, pay close attention to these important two facts related to exercises for lower back pain:

  1. Never work out through pain. If you experience more than mild discomfort while exercising or if any discomfort lasts longer than 10 minutes during activity, stop what you're doing and notify your healthcare provider.
  2. Not all activities are appropriate for lower back pain. Some forms of exercise can make pain worse and can even lead to injury because of the amount of stress or "load" they place on the spinal discs and ligaments.

Even though Redondo Beach has much to offer when it comes to outdoor options for exercise, some people are more comfortable indoors. Many strengthening activities that focus on core muscle groups that support your spine can be done inside. These can be especially important for managing lower back pain. 

Simple Exercises for Lower Back Pain

It's critical to know what types of movement are safe for your back and which ones are not. 

Modified Crunches to strengthen your lower back

One exercise people with lower back pain should avoid is "crunches." Crunches place a tremendous amount of pressure on the structures of the lower spine. If you have lower back pain, you can strengthen your core abdominal and back muscles, and relieve pain safely by doing modified crunches instead.

Starting Position: Lie on your back on an exercise mat or carpeted floor. Both of your legs are bent at the knees; the soles of your feet are flat on the floor.

  • Cross your arms, one over the other, on top of your chest.
  • Slowly take a deep breath in and tighten the muscles of your abdomen.
  • As you exhale, lift your shoulders off your mat or the floor
  • Be careful to keep your tailbone and low back on the floor, and avoid using your arms or elbows to lift your head and shoulders up.
  • Hold this position of tension for a count of 3 to 5 before returning to the starting position.
  • Rest briefly and repeat 8 to 10 times

Hamstring Stretch to ease lower back pain

Another exercise that can help strengthen your lower back muscles, as well as the strong supportive muscles of your legs, is the hamstring stretch. Try it every other day to ease pain and muscle spasms and to build core strength.

Starting Position: Sit on an exercise mat or on a carpeted floor. Both of your legs are extended out in front of you, toes pointing up. Keep your back straight.

  • Bend your right knee and let it fall to the side, bringing your right foot leg toward you, until the bottom of your right foot is against the inside of your left leg. Keep your left leg straight, toes pointing toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend slowly forward from your waist.
  • Bring your chest toward your left knee. Be careful not to jerk or bounce.
  • You won't need to bend far before you feel tension behind your knee, in the hamstring muscle. Stop stretching when you feel this tightness.
  • While slowly breathing in and out, hold the stretch at this point for a count of 10.
  • Slowly sit back and relax.
  • Repeat the stretch with the right leg.

Side Stretch to ease lower back pain

When relieving lower back pain, it's important to focus on all areas of teh lower back, including the sides of the back. Obliques, the muscles on the sides of the back, can hold tension and cause pain. Stretching these muscles can help ease lower back pain.

Strarting position: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed (see photo). 

  • Place your right hand on the floor behind you.
  • Reach your left arm up and over to the right.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat with the left hand down and the right arm up. 
  • Repeat 3 times on each side.

Knee to Chest Stretch to strengthen and ease lower back pain

Another exercise that will help stretch your back is a knee to chest exercise.

Strarting position: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Feet should be flat on the floor. 

  • Keeping one foot flat on the floor, bring one knee up to your chest.
  • If you can, hold the knee with your hands.
  • Press your lower back into the floor and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Lower the knee and repeat with the other leg.
  • Repeat 3 times for each leg.

Lower back pain is sometimes caused by other serious medical conditions, so be sure to check with your chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, or physical therapist before beginning any new exercise or activity to make sure it's safe and appropriate for you.