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12 Best Physiotherapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

The upper body and spinal column depend on the low back for support. Even our mobility is due to the muscles in our lower back. Pain or injury on the lower back can cause serious consequences such as disability if left to progress unattended.

Studies have shown that physiotherapy exercises for lower back pain can provide permanent solutions to people with low back pain conditions.

What causes lower back pain?

A person may experience lower back pain because of a disease, an injury or spinal and kidney infections. Back pain is deemed acute when it lasts for a few days or weeks, but when it extends to three months and more, it becomes chronic.

Apart from muscle, disc and ligament strain or injury, low back pain can be as a result of body changes that come with aging. The fluid content found between the spine and the vertebrae reduces as one grows older, making the spine discs vulnerable to inflammation. Losing muscle tone in the lower back also makes one prone to injuries.

How exercises help in healing back pain

It is essential to get the advice of a physician when you have experienced lower back pain for more than two weeks. Your doctor will give you a diagnosis that will help your physical therapist to guide the type of physical therapy for lower back pain needed for your unique situation.

Strengthening back muscles through exercise can help prevent lower back pain. Doctors will advise on exercises because staying active helps to minimize body stiffness by increasing the blood flow in the area around the lower back and the whole body. By restoring spinal balance, exercises can help to speed up low back healing.

There are plenty of physiotherapy exercises recommended by physical therapists according to how intense the pain is and what caused it. These exercises below can provide long term relief for low back pain:

1. Bird dog exercise

The bird dog exercise a lower back physical therapy that is essential in mobilizing the lower back to ensure a full recovery. During this exercise, you get on your knees and hands.

While keeping the stomach muscles tight, knees under your hips and hands below the shoulders, lift one leg and extend it and the opposite arm as you keep your hips level. Your head should align with the spine. Hold them up for about five to ten seconds before switching to the other pair. Repeat the exercise up to twelve times while alternating.

This exercise helps to stabilize your lower back. The arm and leg movement should be painless if done correctly.

2. Knee-to-chest stretches

Knee-to-chest stretches are right for relieving pain and tension in the lower back. They also help to keep the lower back well aligned as shown here:

To do the knee-to-chest stretches, you will lie on your back, bend your knees with all feet resting firmly on the floor. With both hands, pull one knee to your chest and hold it there for five seconds while pressing your spine to the floor and holding your breath to keep the abdominal muscles tight. Back to the starting position, repeat the exercise using the second knee. You can do this twice or three times on two occasions each day.

3. Bridging exercise

To perform bridging, you lie on your back with both knees bent with feet firm on the floor.

A female fitness instructor demonstrates the finishing position of the yoga bridge pose

While taking a deep breath and squeezing your buttocks, lift your hips until the knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold them in that position for about six seconds and while at it, tighten the muscles around the abdomen. Repeat the exercise eight to twelve times with rest intervals of ten seconds.

4. The spine stretch exercise

This is one of the best lower back stretches where you stretch out the spine to keep it strong. To do the spine stretch exercise, you are required to lie flat on your back with a cushion placed beneath your head.

With your knees bent and close together, relax your upper body and tuck in your chin. Roll your knees and pelvis to one side while keeping the shoulders firm on the floor as you take deep breaths. Get back to the primary position and repeat the same workout while alternating the sides. You can do this exercise six to eight times a day.

Point to note: The spine stretch exercise is not recommended if you have a herniated disc because it will aggravate it. That is why it is vital that you understand the cause of your lower back pain.

5. Pelvic tilts exercise

Pelvic tilts exercise is one of the physical therapy exercises for lower back, which if done correctly, will make you feel your muscles contract in the pelvis as they work.

As you lie on your back with a book, mat or cushion beneath your head, bend your knees and keep your feet straight. Your hips should be width apart, your chin tucked in gently and your upper body well relaxed.

Ensure that your lower back is firm on the floor and your stomach muscles are contracted. Tilt the pelvis back and forth in the direction of your heels until you experience an arch in your lower back. The tilt should be slow and in a rocking motion. Repeat the exercise ten to fifteen times by going back to the starting position and restarting.

While doing pelvic tilts, put one hand under your lower back and the other one on your stomach. Do not press down through your feet, shoulders or neck.

6. Partial crunches

The partial stomach crunches are some of the exercises for lower back pain relief and lower back strengthening. Here is how to perform partial crunches:

Lie flat with your back, your knees bent and feet firmly held on the floor. Keep your arms crossed on your chest or place your hands behind your head and lift your shoulders off the floor. Hold on for a few seconds. All this while you should tighten your stomach muscles. Do not yank your neck off the floor using your arms.

Lower yourself back to the floor slowly, repeating the same exercise eight to twelve times. Ensure your tailbone, feet and lower back on the floor throughout your exercise.

7. Aerobics

Aerobic exercises are back pain exercises at home, which can strengthen the entire cardiovascular systems, including the blood vessels, the heart and the lungs. Such workouts include swimming, biking, walking and other exercises that increase the heart rate. You can start with short sessions that will increase with time as your stamina improves.

Swimming, for example, can completely relieve back pain since the water will support your weight and help to align your back. However, do not make strokes that will twist your body and cause more damage to your lower back.

8. Cat stretches

Cat stretch physiotherapy for lower back pain can help to straighten and strengthen the back while easing muscle tension. Here is how you can do the cat stretches:

On your hands and knees, arch your back and pull the bellybutton towards your spine. Ensure that your knees are hip-width apart. While allowing your abdomen to sag towards the floor, relax your muscles and return to your initial position. You can repeat this workout three to five times twice every day.

9. Wall Sits

Wall sits can be a relief from spending time sitting on the couch. To properly carry out wall sit exercises:

Stand ten to twelve inches with your back against the wall. Lean carefully towards the wall until your spine is lying against it. Bent your knees slightly and slowly slide down the wall as you press your low back on the wall. You can hold this position for close to ten seconds and slide back up. Repeat this workout eight to twelve times every day.

10. Supermans stretches

Supermans stretches are useful for maintaining good posture through strong back extensors. The back extensors are muscles that support the spine and pelvis.

Doing supermans stretches requires that you lie on the ground with your face down. Stretch your arms in front and keep your legs stretched out too. Lift both your feet and hands to leave a 6-inch gap between the floor and the limbs. In that position, try pulling the bellybutton off the floor while keeping your head straight and the eyes focused on the floor. Stretch your hands and feet outwards until you can’t anymore and hold on for about two seconds. Go back to the starting position and repeat the exercise ten times.

11. Partial curls

Partial curl exercises can bring stability and align the spine to help ease lower back pain.

Here is how you can perform partial curls:

When carrying out partial curls, you should lie on your back and bend your knees while crossing your hands over your chest. Keep your feet firmly held on the floor, and your hip-width apart. Take a deep breathe then breathe out while tightening the stomach muscles.

Lift your head and shoulders two inches from the ground but leave your neck and spine aligned. Hold on in the same position for five seconds before returning to the starting point. Repeat this ten times with three sets each day.

12. Weight lifting

Weight lifting can help to support your body and make your lower back stronger. With proper guidance from both your doctor and trainer, you can perform slow weight lifting exercises and reduce the pain in your back.


Routine physiotherapy exercises that include stretching and strengthening of the abdominal core are ideal for people with lower back pain. Apart from these exercises, those with this condition should also watch their general posture and also avoid heavy lifting. In case the exercises above do not work out, it is good to stop and consult a professional physiotherapist.

Besides, if you’ve lower back pain that doesn’t go away despite these exercises, you may want to talk to one of our physiotherapy specialists. This is the right time to book an appointment for free consultation.

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