Best exercises for the lower back

Low back pain is one of the most prevalent health conditions in Australia with roughly 16% of Australians living with chronic back pain and over 80% of us experiencing back pain at some point in our lives.

Management of low back pain is difficult and there are many different types of treatment available, however in research studies therapeutic exercise is consistently shown to be more effective than other treatments.

Whilst everyone’s back is different and a specific approach will generally get the best results, here are 5 easy lower back exercises to perform at home that most people can benefit from.

Lumbar rotations

Great for those who are stiff in the morning or with acute low back pain.

Laying on your back with feet supported and knees bent up, rock your knees side to side. Start with a small range of motion and gradually increase as you feel comfortable. Aim for around 1 minute and keep it comfortable- this exercise is more about easy movement than getting a stretch.

Pelvic curls

This exercise gets some nice movement in your lower back and hips as well as strengthening your core and gluteal muscles which protect your spine.

Laying on your back with your knees bent to around 90* and feet flat on the floor- roll the small of your back down into the ground and continue into lifting your buttocks off the ground. Slowly lower down in the opposite order. Start with small lifts of 6-8 repetitions if you are new to this exercise and you can gradually increase your range and add extra sets as it gets easier.

Gluteal stretches

Laying on your back pull your knee gently towards you, aiming to feel a stretch through your backside. You can then rotate your hip outwards slightly and hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

4-point kneeling with arm/leg extension

This is a motor control exercise and you be done slowly focusing on your technique.

Kneel on the ground with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders, then try and find the middle position of your lower back, where it is not too curved or not too flat.

Keep your lower back and pelvis as still as possible whilst you alternate extending one hip behind you. If you are finding this very easy, challenge yourself by extending your opposite arm with your opposite hip.  Start with around 8-10 repetitions per side and add extra sets as you improve

Hip Flexor stretches

This is an excellent exercise to counter some of the effects of prolonged sitting, which can shorten your hip flexors and change the position of your pelvis.

In standing, extend one leg behind your body and try and tuck your pelvis underneath you, aiming to feel a stretch at the front of your thigh or hip. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.


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