Different Types Of Exercises For Lower Back Pain


April 25, 2023

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Lower back pain can be a real issue in many people’s lives. It can be caused by an injury, poor posture, and even just normal aging. Fortunately, there are many treatment solutions available. However, not all of those solutions are ideal. For example, we always recommend against surgery or pain medications, both of which are risky and can have long-term adverse effects.

At Relatyv, we take a whole-person approach, which includes the implementation of lifestyle counseling as part of our treatment protocol. As far as back pain goes, we may recommend different types of exercises tailored to the individual patient. With the proper exercise program, you can reduce chronic lower back pain and mitigate future pain and other issues.

Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a very common issue people face. It is estimated that up to 80% of people may experience discomfort or pain in their lower back at some point in their lives. The reason lower back pain is so prevalent is that there are so many different issues that can contribute to it. Some of the common causes of lower back pain include:

Poor Posture

Poor posture can be caused by sitting in the same position for too long, or it can simply result from poor habits, such as slouching when sitting or sleeping in an awkward position. Poor posture can cause the lower back muscles to become tense and strained, leading to pain and discomfort.

Muscle/Ligament Strain

Muscle strain is caused by sudden or repetitive movements that put too much stress on the lower back muscles. This can range from heavy lifting to being active for extended periods of time. Ligament strain, however, usually occurs when a joint moves beyond its normal range of motion, such as twisting suddenly or stretching too far. Such injuries often result from playing sports or participating in other recreational activities.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can be caused by various factors, including trauma, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. These issues can occur due to a single event (such as an accident) or result from long-term wear and tear. Nerve damage is usually characterized by a shooting or burning pain in the lower back that can radiate down the legs. 

Nerve damage may also cause numbness and tingling in the affected area. If left untreated, nerve damage can also cause muscle weakness and even paralysis.

Spinal Degeneration/ Injury

Spinal degeneration occurs over the course of years, resulting from normal wear and tear on the spine. As people age, the discs in their spine become less flexible, and the joints begin to stiffen. This could lead to pain and discomfort in the lower back. Trauma, such as a car accident, can also lead to a spinal injury that can cause lower back pain.

How Exercises Ease Lower Back Pain

Specific exercises can be incredibly effective at helping to reduce your lower back pain. The following are some examples of how exercise can benefit your lower back issues:

Improves Mobility

Certain exercises can help to improve your mobility by stretching and strengthening the muscles of your lower back. This helps to reduce tension in the area and can improve your range of motion and flexibility. As a result, you may experience less pain and discomfort when moving around. Also, increased flexibility can help prevent you from aggravating your lower back pain with sudden movements.

Reduces Pain In The Affected Area

Exercise can help to reduce the pain in your lower back by strengthening the muscles and ligaments of the affected area. This helps to support the spine, relieve tension, and mitigate further injury. Additionally, increased blood flow can help to reduce inflammation in the affected area, which can reduce pain.

Enhances Bodily Strength

Exercises specifically designed to target the muscles of the lower back can help enhance their strength and stability. This can provide long-term relief from pain and discomfort by decreasing the strain placed on your lower back. Additionally, improving your strength can help you to move more freely, reducing the likelihood of further injury.

Precautions Before Exercising

Although certain exercises can be incredibly beneficial for your lower back, they can be detrimental if you’re not doing them properly — or if the exercises you’re doing are too strenuous. To ensure that you’re protecting your lower back, here are a few precautions to keep in mind before engaging in any form of exercise:

  • Focusing On Low-Impact Movements: Low-impact activities like walking and swimming can be good for your lower back. These exercises place minimal strain on the lower back muscles, allowing you to improve your strength and flexibility without placing too much stress on the area. High-impact activities, such as running and jumping, can significantly strain your lower back muscles. If you already have lower back pain, avoiding these activities is best.
  • Engaging Muscles In A Balanced Way: When working out, it’s essential to focus on engaging all the muscles in your body in a balanced way. This ensures that you are evenly distributing strain and tension, preventing any one area from becoming too tight or sore. Additionally, make sure to alternate between exercises that focus on different areas of the body to ensure that you are targeting all your muscles evenly.
  • Listening To Your Body: When exercising and easing lower back pain, listening to your body is critical. Don’t push yourself too much. If an exercise is causing pain or discomfort, it’s best to stop and rest. Additionally, make sure to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your exercises as you become stronger. This may help to prevent injury and keep you from doing too much too quickly.
  • Modifying Exercises To Fit Your Condition: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. You should modify the exercises you do so they don’t aggravate your back pain. Doing so may require the help of a professional, who can help you to determine which exercises and movements are best suited for your body.

Types Of Lower Back Pain Exercises

When it comes to lower back pain, there are several different exercises that can help to improve flexibility, range of motion, and strength, thereby helping to reduce pain and discomfort. The following are the different types of lower back pain exercises that we may recommend as part of our lifestyle counseling services:


Stretching can relieve pain and tension in the lower back by increasing flexibility and range of motion. Additionally, stretching helps to reduce stiffness and tension in the lower back muscles, allowing for more comfortable movement. To ensure that your stretching is effective and safe, focusing on proper form and targeting the right muscles is critical. One thing to keep in mind is to avoid twisting and extending simultaneously. 

The following are some of the stretching exercises that tend to be appropriate for patients with lower back pain:

  • Hamstring Stretch: This stretch targets the back leg muscles and helps reduce stiffness. Hamstring stretches help reduce lower back pain by improving the range of motion in the hips and lower back. To do this stretch, lie on your back with one knee bent. Extend the other leg straight. Gently press down on the thigh of the bent leg while keeping your back flat against the floor. Hold for at least 30 to 60 seconds, and then switch legs.
  • Child’s Pose: This stretching exercise is excellent for releasing tension in the lower back muscles. To do this stretch, start on your hands and knees with your arms extended forward and your buttocks resting on your heels. Gently move your torso towards the floor while extending your arms until a gentle stretch is felt in the lower back. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Spine Twist: This stretch helps to release tension in the lower back muscles and improve flexibility. Begin on your back and extend your arms out to your sides. Gently bring your knees towards your chest, and then let them fall to one side while keeping the other shoulder on the floor. Hold for at least 30 to 60 seconds before switching sides.
  • Shoulder Roll: This stretching exercise helps to release tension in your neck, shoulders, and back. To do this stretch, start by sitting with your arms at your sides. Let your palms rest on the floor. Gently roll your shoulders forward, up, back, and down in a circular motion. Repeat 10 times.
  • Side-Lying Leg Lift: This exercise helps strengthen the lower back and hip muscles. To do this exercise, lay on your side with your bottom leg bent and your top leg extended straight out. Gently lift your top leg towards the ceiling, without lifting your hips off the floor. Hold for a couple of seconds, and then lower back down. Repeat 10 times on each side.
  • Knee To Chest Stretch: This stretch targets the muscles of the lower back and buttocks, helping to reduce stiffness and pain. Lie on your back and then bend your knees upwards. Gently bring one knee up towards your chest, while keeping the other leg on the floor. Hold for around 30 to 60 seconds, and then switch legs.

Core Strengthening

Strengthening the core muscles is essential for managing lower back pain. The core muscles help provide stability and support for the spine, which helps reduce pain and discomfort by improving posture and mobility. Additionally, if you have a strong core, you’ll be better able to manage and reduce the strain on your lower back. The following are a few core strengthening exercises that can help you manage lower back pain:

  • Planks: Planks are an excellent exercise for improving core strength and stability. To do a plank, start in a push-up position with your arms extended straight and your hands shoulder-width apart. Pull your navel towards your spine to engage your core muscles, and hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Glute Bridges: Glute bridges are a fantastic exercise for strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and core. To do a glute bridge, lie flat on your back. Then, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Engage your core muscles by squeezing them together, and then lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line. Hold for a couple of seconds before lowering back down.
  • Leg/Hip Lift: This exercise is great for strengthening the core, glutes, and hamstrings. To do this exercise, start by lying on your back with one knee bent. Extend the other leg straight up in the air. Engage your core, and then slowly lift your hips off the ground. Hold for a couple of seconds, and then lower back down.

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises

Low-impact aerobic exercises can be an effective way to manage lower back pain. These exercises are gentle on your joints, reduce the strain on your lower back, and help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. They can also help you lose weight, which may relieve some of the pressure off your back. Some examples of low-impact aerobic exercises include the following:

  • Walking: Taking a walk is an easy way to increase your heart rate and improve overall fitness. It’s also relatively low-impact, so it won’t put too much strain on your lower back. Just make sure to wear shoes with good support.
  • Swimming: Swimming is a great way to get an aerobic workout without putting too much strain on your lower back. The buoyancy of the water supports some of your weight, so it’s not as hard on your joints.
  • Recumbent Cycling: Recumbent bikes are a great way to get an aerobic workout without putting too much strain on your lower back. They provide the support for your lower back, allowing you to pedal with less strain and discomfort.

Exercises To Avoid With Back Pain

While some exercises can help manage lower back pain, certain activities may aggravate it. Any exercise that puts too much strain on your lower back should be avoided. These include activities such as the following:

Toe Touches

Toe touches can be hard on your lower back as they require you to bend over and reach for your toes. This can put too much strain on your lower back, so it should be avoided if you’re experiencing pain.

Heavy Weight Lifting

Lifting heavy weights of any kind can put too much strain on your lower back, so it should be avoided if you’re experiencing pain. If you want to do strength training, focus on low-weight exercises that don’t require you to lift more than your own body weight.

Situps and Abdominal Crunches

Situps and abdominal crunches can be hard on your lower back as they require you to lift your torso off the floor. Doing so may put too much strain on your lower back because of the resulting torque. If you’re trying to improve your core strength, focus on exercises like planks and glute bridges instead.

Leg Lifts/ Double Leg Raises

Leg lifts and double leg raises can be dangerous for people with lower back pain, as they require you to lift both legs off the ground. This puts a great deal of strain on your lower back and should be avoided if you’re experiencing pain.

When To See A Physician For Your Lower Back Pain

If you have mild to moderate lower back pain, many of these exercises — along with simple rest — can help reduce your discomfort. However, if your pain is more severe or does not improve with rest and exercise, it is vital to seek medical help. At this point, you’ll want a proper diagnosis of what’s causing your lower back so that your treatment (including exercises) can be tailored to your specific condition.

Regain Your Movement Without Experiencing Lower Back Pain

Exercise can be an effective way to manage lower back pain. However, it’s essential to focus on exercises that don’t put too much strain on your lower back and avoid those which can exacerbate the pain. At Relatyv, we provide lifestyle advice as part of our whole-person approach to pain management. Depending on your diagnosis, we may recommend various exercises in conjunction with our drug-free, non-chiropractic, non-invasive forms of treatment to help you regain your movement without experiencing lower back pain.

About the Author

Will is a healthcare executive, innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, and writer with a wide range of experience in the medical field. Will has multiple degrees in a wide range of subjects that give depth to his capability as an entrepreneur and capacity to operate as an innovative healthcare executive.

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