10 Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises – That Work Great!

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Low back pain stinks. Let’s face it.

I’ve had a bad lower back, off and on, for over 20 years and it’s definitely no fun.

I’ve been able to keep my back healthy through a number of therapeutic exercises that I learned as an Occupational Therapist.

Today I would like to share the same lower back pain relief exercises that we, as rehab therapists, prescribe to our patients.

Before we begin with the exercises, let’s start with some basic (preliminary) information you need to have before you begin any lower back exercise or stretch.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Work: When Done Correctly


To relieve lower back pain, whether it’s acute pain or long term pain, you need to approach the subject systematically.

Low back pain exercises can be thought in terms of a combination of these 4 activities…

  • Stretching exercises
  • Relaxation poses
  • Core strengthening exercises
  • Intermittent Use of Cold Packs

You’ll find that you will often times combine these exercises to complement one another. Getting a bit of trunk flexion in one exercise, then going to extension on the next.

There is actually 100’s of great exercises that you can do to decrease and eliminate low back pain.

The exercises below are perfect to start with and for those who need more help, we’ve got a spectacular recommendation (discussed below).

Start with Cold Therapy


Before you begin any lower back exercise program, make sure you eliminate the need for cold packs.

If you recently injured your lower back, then you need to use cold therapy for the next 24 to 48 hours. 

Review Cold Application Procedures Right Here!

If you have chronic lower back pain, consider a cold therapy session from time to time just to calm everything down.

I find that when I can’t get my lower back to relax, inevitably, I need to use cold therapy.

Therapeutic Breathing – Use It!


Breathing is your friend, it’s your weapon to deal with stress, anxiety, emotions, and… low back pain.

With breathing you can calm down that nervous system and let those tight muscles relax.

With every back pain relief exercise you perform, try to incorporate what is called the therapeutic breath.

It’s very similar to what’s practiced in Yoga.

It’s a slow inhale through the nose with a slow exhale out through the lips. The lips can be slightly pursed if you like.

I encourage you to take a minute to perform some relaxing deep breaths before you begin your exercises.

Find your breath.. 😉

You’ll find that movement and breathing go hand and hand. And by controlling your breath, you can improve your control over movement.

What’s that whole Lamaze breathing thing about, Right?

The point is, breathing is an important aspect in performing lower back pain relief exercises.

You can actually cause those tight little lower back muscles to stop spasming when you use this techniques in combination with the poses, stretches, and exercises.

Need More Help with Your Back Pain? Learn More Here!

Pain and Low Back Exercises


With back pain and exercise, you might experience some increased symptoms of pain.

You need to understand the difference between Good Pain and Bad Pain.

Bad pain is anything that radiates the pain away from the original pain source. 

So if anything causes the pain in your lower back to shoot pain (or an electric feeling) down your legs – is a sign that you need to stop the stretch or exercise.

If the pain goes up drastically in severity, then you also want to back off from whatever you are doing.

Good Pain is pain that stays locally from where it originated.

When stretching areas that have been tight for a long time, you will find increased pain with some exercises, poses, and stretches.

If that pain diminishes and stays local over time, that’s a good thing.

That being said, lets get started with the exercises.

10 Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises – That Work


1. Put Your Feet Up & Relax

This first position is a place to find comfort. When your lower back is driving you crazy, you can always come to this position to find relief.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

Position: Get on the ground and put your feet up on a chair, bed, couch or coffee table.

A therapy ball works great because it provides traction for the lower back and there’s some great exercises you can do with it as well.

In this position, focus on relaxing the lower back and start doing some slow-deep breaths.

You can progress this position to include some pelvic tilt exercises.

  1. Squeeze your butt muscles and hold the contraction for a few seconds, then relax.
  2. Slightly arching your back, hold it, then relax.

This is also an excellent position to put a cold pack when you’re lower back is recently injured or just needs a break.

2. Be the Ball..

Position: Lie on your back, bring your knees up into your chest, and grab your knees with your hands and arms. You might need to place your hands underneath your hamstrings to be able to curl up into a ball.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

If that doesn’t work, use a band or belt to give you a little extra room to hold the pose.

Relax and focus on the breath. Let that lower back relax and just breath.

The Exercise: From here, you can rock slowly side to side, or up and down.

You’ll use your abdominal muscles to get you moving and this provides a gentle massage to the lower back.

3. Prone with Back Extensions

Position: Lie face down on the floor with your hands in front, inter-locked, and under you chin.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

This is a great resting position to relieve lower back pain. Just focus on the breath and let your belly melt to the floor.

Think of your lower back relaxing and with each deep breath, let it relax into the ground.

Once you get it to where your back feels good and loose in this position, you can progress to the next stage in this exercise.

Here’s how…

From laying face down, prop you arms up so your weight is resting on your elbows and forearms. Again, incorporate the deep breathing as you experience this slight back bend.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

Next, if you feel up to the challenge, place your hands where your elbows are, and push up.

This is a deep back bend. Do not push this one if it does not feel comfortable, but try to work into it in the future.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

You’ll find the tightness should decrease as you relax into the pose.

If the pain drastically increases, stop, it’s OK, try another day.

Again focus on the deep breathing while your lower back relaxes.

You can hold these poses for up to a few seconds to 3 to 4 minutes. 

Find the right challenge for you.

The Exercise: Back Push-Ups – Do only after you’ve held the previous poses and feel loosened up!

2.  Lie down on your stomach. Put your hands close to your chest (like a push-up position).

Push up as you did going into the prior stretch only this time make this the exercise.

Try to relax your lower back and do the push-ups just with your arms. Repeat for 10 – 20 reps.

It looks like this..

This exercise provides passive range of motion to the lower back and improves the back extension motion.

After this post, it’s great to transition to Exercise # 6. Downward Dog (listed below).

4. One Leg To Chest

Position: On your back, pull one knee up to your chest at a time, hold position for a 10 second count per leg.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

From there you can gently pull your knee from the middle of the chest to the right and left, and get a hip stretch too . 

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

5. Bridge Your Hips

Position: Laying down, bend both knees, and bring your feet close to your hips. From there lift your hips up in the air. Like this..

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

You’ll find as you practice this motion you can raise your hips up higher, even engaging your upper back muscles to increase the movement.

You can do bridges for repetitions or sustained holds. Try a mix of the two and even try holding the position till the muscles have to give up (Muscle Failure).

Remember, we’re trying to break that spastic muscle pattern that’s happening when you get low back pain.

Bridging can really help with this.

6. Downward Facing Dog

Down dog is an excellent position to maintain a nice (lower) back stretch while getting a solid hamstring and calf stretch.

Try bicycling in this pose, shifting from one calf muscle in extension with an inhale and exhale, then switch to the other side.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

7. Side Leg Raises

Position: Lie on your side or up against a wall to help you get this motion of your leg if that helps you get to know the movement.

I like to feel my lower back muscles contract with my hand to get feedback that my lumbar muscles are contracting first, then the hip abductors kick in to raise your leg up into the air.

Try 10 – 20 reps. Switch sides

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

8. Superman

Position: Lie down on your belly.

Arch your back, pull your chest and shoulder off the ground and at the same time lift your feet off the ground.

Hold for a second or two, return to the floor. Try 10 – 20 reps.

I like to do Superman and Side Leg Raises together to get my back going in the morning. Check it out.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

9. Cat And Cow!

This is really a great position to stretch the lower back and get it moving better.

Position: On all fours or a 4 point stance. Weight is in the hands and knees/feet.

Cow Movement: Extend your back, lift your head up, and raise your butt in the air.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

Cat Movement: Engage your abdominal muscles, round the back, touch the chin, and pull those hips underneath you.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

Both are great movements to explore. When you go back and forth between the positions, use the therapeutic breath to guide the movement.

10. Child’s Pose

Mostly a resting position, it’s a nice way to cool down with Child’s Pose.

As well, this is a Go-To Pose to counter any of the back extension exercises.

Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises Photo

After you’ve relaxed in this position for a few deep breaths, you can extend your arms out and reach in front of your head to get a stretch through the sides of your back.

You can then place both hands to the right and stretching out to the right for a couple breaths.

Then go to the left and do the same thing.

Need More Advanced Help with Low Back Pain?


Thanks for reading our post and I really hope these exercises, stretches, and poses will make a major difference in your low back pain.

The key is consistently with the exercises on a daily basis and to get that pain under control, if not eliminated.

If you need more help fixing your back, but don’t have $100’s or $1,000’s of dollars to spend, I recommend you check out our favorite low back pain therapy tool. (Click the link to read our review)

I’ve been using this product for a couple of months now and it really is an amazing tool and a great value for under $50 dollars.

If you have any lower back pain relief exercises that you want to share, leave a comment below.

Thanks


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Todd

Todd is an Occupation Therapist and Internet Marketer. He inspires to help others improve their lives through therapy and online education.

Comments (11)

  1. Jen

    Reply

    These are some great exercises for lower back. I’ve tried most of these at one time or another. I definitely agree with exercise number 1 as is seems to take all the pressure off the lower back. Another stretch that could be helpful is to stand in a doorway. Twist to one side grabbing both hands on the same door post while looking over your shoulders and holding the stretch til feel a good stretch, then switch to the other side.

    • Todd

      Reply

      Thanks Jen, I’ve seen that one and it’s a nice spinal twist. 

      There’s so many lower back pain relief exercises, but these are some of the best one for the majority of the people and are also very easy to perform.

      Thanks for your feedback.

  2. Bobby

    Reply

    So glad I ran across this site. I do suffer from lower back pain especially after a hard day at work.
    I have tried exercises before but I don’t think I followed them too closely and didn’t do them for too long. Would quit after a couple of times.
    Do you recommend doing all 10 exercises at one time? Should I choose a few to work on at first then work up to the full 10? Can I do them twice a day?
    Thanks for the educational information.

    • Todd

      Reply

      Hey Bobby,

      Good questions. You can definitely start with a couple and do this several times during the day.

      I think if you can start with a few that are complementary to one other and that would be a great way to begin.

      I like Cat/Cow or Cat/Kamel because they are complementary to one another by working both trunk flexion and extension.

      Thanks so much for your feedback and just start with a few exercises unless you get inspired to do all 10 of the lower back pain relief exercises.

      Best,

      Todd

  3. Natalie

    Reply

    This is a great collection of low-back-pain exercises and stretches! I use them all regularly, at various times, particularly in my yoga practice. I had several injuries many years ago that resulted in chronic low back pain because of a twisted pelvis and other issues. I’ve experienced a ton of healing through manipulative therapies (myofascial release, craniosacral work, chiropractic, and some traditional PT), but still have some pain under the right conditions. I’ll need to check out the Invertabelt to which you’ve referred several people to help me continue improving.

    • Todd

      Reply

      Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for your feedback and sharing your story about back pain. I think these exercises in combination with the Invertabelt would be a great way for you to go.

      It would be fun to see if you have the same experience I’ve had with it based on your history of back pain.

      For $50 it’s not too big of a risk when comparing that with Chiro and PT sessions. At least for me here in CO where it’s currently $120/45 minute session (which includes dry needling).

      Give it a go and if you can, I’d love to get your feedback on the Invertabelt.

      Best,

      Todd

  4. cristina

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing. It is a very helpful article back pain and exercise. My boyfriend has back pain for many years and for sure I will show him your post to try this exercises. I think will help a lot.

    Can I ask something? He tried for years to get rid of the pain. Do you think is too late for this therapy?

    Thanks again and for sure I will be back to your site:)
    Cristina

    • Todd

      Reply

      Hi Cristina,

      Tell you boyfriend it is NOT too late. Regardless how long you’ve had back pain, you can make some significant improvements in your situation.

      I’ve dealt with patients that have had back longer than my life time and we’ve been able to make some great functional gains and significantly decrease lower back pain.

      I would definitely recommend he check out this post and read about the Invertabelt.

      This is my go to product for those with lower back pain.

      Thanks,

      Todd

  5. Josh Ellery

    Reply

    From a person with lordosis (aka duck butt), I know first hand how much this sucks. A big part of it is definitely posture but no matter how many exercises I tried I just couldn’t find a permanent fix, are there any proven ways to get rid of back pain forever? I like the idea of cold therapy which could provide relief

    • Todd

      Reply

      Hey Josh,

      It depends on the severity of your situation. In many situations it can be a management thing.

      Meaning, you need to dedicate some time to the exercises and modalities like cold therapy. 

      Sometimes it can even be drugs to manage the pain there.

      I spoke to my PT the other day and he consistently sees better pain management through exercise.

      And when you think about this (as a therapist) it makes sense. When we get the muscles to move, they normalize in tone. So spastic muscles relax and start to function. 

      If it’s something anatomical where a nerve is being impinged changes the scenario though.

      Sometimes nerve glides work, other times you need something evasive like surgery. Exercise gives great results for issues that deal with muscles that are spastic, turned off, or low tone.

      I’d consider talking to a specialist that can analyse your posture and treat you on an individual basis. 

      If you’ve done that and haven’t gotten the results you want, give the Invertabelt a try. 

      It provides a quality manual (like) therapy that’s similar to what you would get with manual therapy provided from an actual therapist.

      It’s working great for me and maybe it would help you too. At least check out our review.

      Best,

      Todd

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