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best lower back exercises

The Best Exercises for Your Low Back Pain

by Tanner Neuberger, PT, DPT, TDN Level 13 Comments

A common misconception is to rest when experiencing low back pain, but in certain instances that couldn鈥檛 be further from the truth. Taking the route of exercise that is both comfortable and sustainable can help to reduce back pain and improve overall fitness and mobility.

It is important to know that although it may be painful now, it can get better with time and with some dedicated work. Outlined below are a few exercises that you can apply to help ease some of your symptoms. Some of these exercises will be movement-based, and some will be designed to provide strength or stability to the regions around the low back. Understand that not all of these exercises will be the right fit for you, based on your current fitness level or comfortability with the exercises, but you will likely be able to find something that works, and eventually you might be able to advance your choices.

Lying Trunk Rotations and Cat/Camel

These two exercises are great for introducing some movement into the lumbar spine, the portion of the spine that makes up the low back region. Of the two, the lying trunk rotations are the easiest to perform, and are often the most tolerated being that they are performed when the person is lying on their back and rocking their legs side to side in a bent position.

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Lying Trunk Rotation

The Cat/Camel exercise is performed with a hands and knees position, alternating between arching and rounding the lumbar spine.

best lower back exercises best lower back exercises

Cat/Camel Exercise


A bridge is performed when a person is lying on their back, with both of their knees bent and their feet fairly close to the bottom. The exercise is performed by thrusting their hips upwards until they can no longer move them any higher. The goal is to feel the glutes contracting and propelling the movement. Glutes play a very important role in keeping the lumbar spine healthy.

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Bridge exercise

Plank Variations

These exercises are a bit harder to perform and carry with them an increased risk for increasing acute pain due to the intensity of the core contraction. This is not the best route for everyone, but it is one that individuals with back pain can try to perform eventually as the benefits can be tremendous. Below are pictures that demonstrate the movements. The important thing is to feel your core/abdominals contracting and feeling the intensity of the movement, not your low back.

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Plank exercises


A great exercise option that someone can do when they have a bout of back pain is to walk. A long walk can not only increase their cardiovascular fitness but also provide some low-grade movement to ease their pain. It is a simple activity to give their body movement and it is easy to perform. I always suggest to my patients to walk somewhere in nature if they can, for example, a state park. This scenery can distract you from your pain, and give you some enjoyable views while you are exercising. Ideally, you should strive to walk at a quick enough pace that you increase your breathing rate and strive to walk for 20-30 minutes at this pace. As always, make sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine.

Back pain is never fun to deal with. It can be unnerving and worrisome if you never had any back pain before. The aforementioned activities are a great place to start with trying to get some activity in, but are only general recommendations. If you need help with finding more specific activities to help ease your back pain, contact your local Athletico and set up a free assessment today.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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  1. Debby

    Great info and great pictures of exercises! Thanks. l have seen Athletico pts for lower back pain and what a total improvement ! Have arthritis and just need to keep doing those exercises so far to keep the pain away. Thanks for this reminder 馃槣

  2. Mae F McGee

    I have tried these exercises for my lower back pain and they really have helped me to continue to function almost normal.

    Thank you Athletico Physical Therapy for your help!

  3. Nery

    Nice to see photos on how to do them. I will keep these handy to practice daily to keep my lower back in check.

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