Lower Back Exercises

Lower Back Exercises

If you are exercising due to back pain, avoid these exercises until you strengthen your lower back:  Toe Touches, Sit-ups, and Leg Lifts.

Caution – if you have back pain, see a doctor before starting any exercises program. If you experience pain that lasts more than 15 minutes you should stop exercising and contact a doctor.


Partial Crunch

1.  Lie face up with your hands behind your neck.
2.  Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
3.  Tighten your stomach muscles.
4.  Breathing out, raise your shoulders off the floor.
5. Repeat 8-12 times.

How to do it: Begin by lying face up on the floor with knees bent. The movement begins by curling the shoulders towards the pelvis. Your hands can be behind your head, beside the neck or crossed over the chest.

Tip:  Do not use your arms – you can injure yourself by pushing against your head or neck with your hands.

Note: Unlike the sit-up, when doing crunches, your feet, tailbone and lower back stay on the floor. Proper form prevents excessive stress on your low back. It is said by scientific literature to eliminate any involvement by the hips, and makes the crunch an effective isolation exercise for the abdominals.

Intermediate: Crunches-2

Lie on a declined bench or hold a weight under your chin, chest or behind your head. Crunch exercises may be performed on an exercise ball.

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Bird Dog

1.  Kneel on the floor and face down (prone) with your hands under shoulder with extended elbows.
2.  Point your fingers forward with your palms resting on the floor.
3.  Keeping your spine straight without arching up or down and extend your left leg to hip height and right arm to shoulder level.  Your shoulder should be parallel to the floor.
4.  Keep your abdominal muscles tucked in.
5.  Look straight ahead so that your neck can maintain the alignment to the rest of the body.
6.  Hold this position for 4 seconds then come back to the starting position.
7.  Repeat on each side 10 times.

Tip:  Don’t stop breathing, keep your extended arm and leg straight – don’t arch up or down.

What it does:  A total body exercise that targets the lower back and to a lesser degree the traps, shoulders, abs, glutes and hamstrings.

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1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Using your abs, lift your hips and buttocks off the floor.
3. Repeat 5 times.

What it does: Restores the curve in the lower back, which helps restore your neck’s alignment as well. Opens the chest and stretches the diaphragm, improving your ability to breathe deeply.

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, about 12 inches from your hips. To a count of three, reach your arms overhead and lift your hips off the floor. Your head, arms, shoulders, and feet stay grounded. Keep your buttocks soft and core abdominals tight as you hold the stretch for a count of three (3). Now lower your arms and roll your spine, one vertebra at a time, back down to the mat. Repeat 5 times.

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Hamstring Stretch

  1. The easiest way to stretch your hamstrings without straining your back is to perform the standing hamstring stretch.
  2.  Find a stool or chair and put your right foot up on the chair.
  3.  Straighten your right knee, keep your chest up and your back straight as you  slowly lean forward toward your right foot.
  4.  You can gently hold your right knee straight as you do so to prevent it from  bending up.
  5.  Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  6.  Repeat with the left leg.
  7. Don’t bounce into this as bouncing can cause muscle or back injury. You gain more by holding the stretch.



1.  Lie on your back and bend one knee.
2.  Loop a towel under the ball of your foot.
3.  Straighten your knee and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle  stretch down the back of your leg.
4.  Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
5.  Do 2 to 4 times for each leg.

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Elbow Press Up

This is a back extension exercise…

  1. Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and your legs straight behind you.
  2. Push with your elbows so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor.  Keep your hips on the floor.
  3. Hold this position for several seconds.

If it’s comfortable for you, extend your arms so your elbows are on the floor directly under your shoulders.

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Knee to Chest

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring one knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor.
  3. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Lower your knee and repeat with the other leg.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times for each leg.

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Pelvic Tilt

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tighten your stomach by contracting it as though you were preparing for a punch. You’ll feel your back pressing into the floor, and your hips and pelvis rocking back.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

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