Low Back Pain Exercises

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  • Standing hamstring stretch:
  • Place the heel of your injured leg on a stool about 15 inches high. Keep your knee straight. Lean forward, bending at the hips until you feel a mild stretch in the back of your thigh. Make sure you do not roll your shoulders and bend at the waist when doing this or you will stretch your lower back instead of your leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

  • Cat and camel:
  • Get down on your hands and knees. Let your stomach sag, allowing your back to curve downward. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Then arch your back and hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10.

  • Quadruped arm/leg raise:
  • Get down on your hands and knees. Tighten your abdominal muscles to stiffen your spine. While keeping your abdominals tight, raise one arm and the opposite leg away from you. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Lower your arm and leg slowly and alternate sides. Do this 10 times on each side.

  • Pelvic tilt:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax. Do 3 sets of 10.

  • Partial curl:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles. Tuck your chin to your chest. With your hands stretched out in front of you, curl your upper body forward until your shoulders clear the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Don't hold your breath. It helps to breathe out as you lift your shoulders up. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Build to 3 sets of 10. To challenge yourself, clasp your hands behind your head and keep your elbows out to the side.

  • Gluteal stretch:
  • Lying on your back with both knees bent, rest the ankle of one leg over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the thigh of the bottom leg and pull that knee toward your chest. You will feel a stretch along the buttocks and possibly along the outside of your hip on the top leg. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

  • Extension exercise:
  • Lie face down on the floor for 5 minutes. If this hurts too much, lie face down with a pillow under your stomach. This should relieve your leg or back pain. When you can lie on your stomach for 5 minutes without a pillow, then you can continue with the rest of this exercise.

    After lying on your stomach for 5 minutes, prop yourself up on your elbows for another 5 minutes. Lie flat again for 1 minute, then press down on your hands and extend your elbows while keeping your hips flat on the floor. Hold for 1 second and lower yourself to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Do 4 sets. Rest for 2 minutes between sets. You should have no pain in your legs when you do this, but it is normal to feel pain in your lower back. Do this several times a day.

  • Side Plank:
  • Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Prop yourself up onto your forearm so your elbow is directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds, then slowly lower your hip to the ground. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for 1 minute or longer. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed to 45 degree angles .

Lumbar Extensor Strengthening Exercises

  • Back extension without arms supporting :
  • 1. Lying face down, place the arms by the side of the body.

    2. Gently pull in the lower stomach muscles to activate the core muscles and protect the spine.

    3. Raise the upper body off the floor. Keep breathing throughout the exercise.

    4. If you feel any tension in the lower back return to the start position and rest for a few breaths.

    5. This will allow the muscles to relax before you perform a second lift.

    6. A slightly more challenging option is to then raise the arms off the floor. This will increase the effort of the extensor muscles of the spine.

    7. Hold the position for 10 seconds.

    8. Repeat 10 times.

  • Back extension with arms supporting :
  • 1. Lying face down. Bring the arms to a bent arm position so that the forearms rest on the floor as shown in the photo.

    2. Gently pull the stomach muscles in to protect the spine.

    3. Gently raise the body off the ground whilst gently resting on the forearms.

    4. Avoid using your arms to lift you up, instead lightly rest on the forearms and use your back muscles to lift you. Avoid hyper-extending the spine to avoid ‘pinching’ the lower back.

    5. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then return to the resting position.

    6. Repeat 10 times.

  • Plank with knees bent to strengthen the core muscles :
  • 1. The plank is a strong exercise.

    2. A good way to start is with the knees bent.

    3. Bend the arms and place the forearms on the floor. With knees bent, keep the trunk of the body off the ground.

    4. Hold for 10 seconds and then rest.

    5. Over time increase the time in the position to 20 seconds, 30 seconds and eventually 60 seconds. If you start to shake, take a rest.

    6. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

  • Bridge Curl :
  • 1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip width apart.

    2. Slowly and gently lift the spine off the floor one vertebrae at a time.

    3. Slowly lower the spine back to the floor, again one vertebrae at a time.

    4. If the core muscles are weak, the movement can feel ‘jerky’. Over time, the movement will become smoother.

    5. Repeat the movement 5 times.

  • Table Top:
  • 1. Start in the ‘table top’ position.

    2. Gently draw in your lower stomach muscles to activate your core muscles.

    3. It is good to imagine that you are keeping a tray on your back with glass of water that you wish to balance.

    4. Gently lift one arm whilst maintaining your balance. If that feels easy, then repeat this with eyes closed.

    5. Alternate arm lifts.

    6. Check that your lower stomach muscle contraction is maintained.

    7. Repeat 10 times.