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Exercises to Reduce Low Back Pain

Updated on August 25, 2013

While in some instances, exercises may eliminate low back pain, it is more frequent that they reduce the pain by strengthening the muscles supporting the spine. There are exercises for different causes of the pain. For example, osteoporosis exercises differ from those created by twisting the back in the wrong way. However, strengthening the core muscles that help support the back does assist in taking stress off the bones. Orthopedic specialists and medical associations approve low back pain exercises presented here.

The core muscles are those that are around the hips, buttocks, back and abdomen. If you have back pain and cough, as the abdominal muscles tighten, the muscles in the lower back are pulled, as well. Working together, the core muscles help create balance when walking and good posture when standing or sitting. Shortened muscles are known to pull the spine out of alignment and cause low back pain that can be corrected with stretching exercise.

Low Back Pain Exercises with Minimal Stress to bone

The following low back pain exercises are for those with extremely painful lower back pain such as osteoporosis, deterioration of the discs, and herniated disc issues. In between each exercise, resting for a minimum of 15 minutes is recommended. All exercises should be rotated sot that muscles are strengthened equally.

Ankle Stretching Exercises

This exercise can be done lying in bed before you get up.

  • Lying on your back, raise one foot and rotate ankle in up and down motion
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Do other ankle

Squatting Exercise

  • Stand straight up against a flat wall surface
  • While keeping your back against the wall, scoot your feet about 12-inches from the wall
  • Slide your back down the wall until your knees are at 45 degrees from the floor
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds
  • Slide back up the wall
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times

Straight Leg Raising Exercises

This is another exercise that can be done in bed.

  • Lying on your back, bend one knee and place that foot firmly on the floor for balance
  • Raise the other leg 6 – 12-inches and hold in place for 5 seconds
  • Tightening the abdominal muscles will help the balance as well
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times alternating the leg raised

Doggy Style Back Stretch Exercise

  • Get down on the floor with hands placed flat and arms straight
  • Knees should be shoulder distance apart and lower legs flat on the floor
  • Start with back level across
  • Raise back as far as possible without lifting knees or hands from floor
  • Hold this position to the count of 5
  • Lower back to level position to count of 6
  • Lower back toward floor to count of 3
  • Return back to level position and hold to count of 5
  • Repeat full series 5 times

Low Back Pain Exercises Require Dietary Adjustments

It is essential that when you experience low back pain of any kind that you increase your intake of water. Water – as far as the body is concerned – comes in the form of fruits, vegetables, and plain water. Vegetables such as lettuce, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes are high in water content that is absorbed by the muscles and tissues. Fruits such as apples, pineapple and peaches contain water and the nutrients that the muscles and bone need to heal. Drinking 4 ounces – half a glass – of plain water and eating applesauce or a small bowl of peaches will increase the healing and strengthening that these exercises are designed to help.

Low Back Pain Exercises to Avoid

There are exercises that stretch the back muscles but are known to cause back injury when pain already exists.

  • Toe touches – these exercises cause the spine to twist as you rotate from one toe to the other.
  • Sit-ups – While strengthening the abdominal muscles is a good thing, pulling muscles in the lower back when pain is present can cause more injury than relief.
  • Avoid Double Leg Lifts – picking up both legs puts stress on the lower back muscles as much as the abdomen. Use the single leg lift exercise above instead.

When deciding what low back pain exercises are most likely to help reduce or prevent back injury, keep in mind your physical condition when you begin. If you are over 55 and do not usually exercise, start slowly. If you have osteoarthritis choose exercises that do not require that you put weight on any of those joints that are affected. For any low back pain exercise, do as many in bed or in water as possible.


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    • bestbinauralbeats profile image

      Kevin 4 years ago from Philadelphia

      I was actually just looking for exercise techniques for the back for my mother.

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 4 years ago from Oregon

      Excellent advice. A couple years ago, I had some major back issues, including sciatica. Normally fit and active, I was actually walking with a cane for a few weeks. I was given a few exercises to help, mainly stretches. It is so important to do the correct ones and avoid others, as you said. But as much as I know it's good to drink water, I never made the connection between back pain and drinking more water! Great article!