What are the Best Exercises for Low Back Pain?

Jill Gonzalez

Exercises for low back pain are usually quite easy to do, and many of them can be performed in the comfort and privacy of one's own home. People who have injured their backs generally need to begin the recovery process slowly. One of the best things that can be done for a lower back problem is to lie on the floor, on the back, with one or two pillows under bent knees. Or the feet can rest either on the floor or on a chair. The position chosen should be the one that is the most comfortable for the injured person. This should provide some immediate relief for most people suffering with lower back issues.

Walking may help alleviate lower back pain.
Walking may help alleviate lower back pain.

The best exercises for low back pain are generally those that stretch and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. Strengthening these muscles can help to prevent future back problems from occurring. Keeping these muscles strong may also help to keep one's spine in the proper position, and help to maintain good posture. Many professionals believe that these are key components in helping people to maintain healthy, pain-free backs.

Stretching and strengthening the back can help alleviate the lower back pain.
Stretching and strengthening the back can help alleviate the lower back pain.

Prior to participating in exercises for low back pain, some experts believe that it is important for patients to warm up with some light aerobic activity, such as walking. For people with disk problems, however, this may not be possible or recommended. After a brief warm-up period, patients can participate in a number of different exercises that will help them to strengthen their backs.

Popular exercises for low back pain include the lying supine hamstring stretch. To begin this exercise, a person should lie on his back, on the floor, with some type of soft support under the lower back. He can then extend his left leg, with the knee straight. Raise the right knee, at the hip, so that it is pointing up. While using both hands to support the right thigh, the exerciser should straighten the knee, and point the foot upward. This movement should stretch the back side of the thigh, or hamstring. The exercisers should hold this pose for at least 30 seconds, and repeat it twice before repeating it with the other leg.

Another popular exercise is called the cat stretch. While on the hands and knees on the floor, keep the hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Let the head drop down, while tucking the hips under and raising the middle of the back as high as possible. Try to create a gradual curve of the back towards the ceiling. Hold the position for about five seconds, and then repeat ten times slowly.

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Discussion Comments


I think that crunches and double-leg lifts are great forms of lower back pain treatment. Though I'm sure that someone in severe pain would not be able to do them, those with mild back pain like me can do them rather easily.

I always make sure to keep my lower back flat on the floor when doing these exercises. If I let it arch, then I risk injury and further pain.

For the crunches, I only lift up my head and shoulders off the floor, using just my abdominal muscles. I've heard that full situps can be bad for your back, so I avoid them.

For the double-leg lifts, I start by lying flat on my back with my toes pointed upward. I lift both legs simultaneously about a foot in the air, hold them for three seconds, and lower them together. This works out my lower abdominal muscles and my lower back, and as I get stronger, my episodes of pain continue to decrease.


My sister had been experiencing severe lower back pain, and her doctor told her that she had sciatica. He sent her to a physical therapist, who worked with her to control her symptoms.

I don't know what exact exercises for sciatica she had to perform, but I do know that they were very low intensity and designed to stretch her muscles. Some days, she was in so much pain that she could not even attempt to do the exercises, but whenever she could, she would do them. They really did seem to do a lot of good after she had been performing them for a couple of months.

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