Lower back pain affects millions of people worldwide, often causing discomfort and limiting daily activities. While it can be a frustrating issue to deal with, there is hope.

Through a combination of targeted exercises and lifestyle adjustments, many individuals find relief and improve their overall quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore various exercises and strategies aimed at alleviating lower back pain, offering practical tips for incorporating them into your daily routine.

Can lower back pain be fixed with exercise?

First off, lower back pain is a common issue for many people, often caused by various factors like poor posture, muscle strain, or injury. When your lower back muscles, ligaments, or discs are stressed or injured, it can lead to discomfort or pain.

Exercise can be a game-changer in managing and even preventing lower back pain. Here’s how it works:

  1. Strengthens Muscles: Specific exercises target the muscles that support your spine, like your core, back, and hip muscles. Strengthening these muscles can provide better support for your spine, reducing strain and discomfort.
  2. Improves Flexibility: Tight muscles can exacerbate lower back pain. Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, easing tension in the muscles and promoting a better range of motion in your spine.
  3. Promotes Better Posture: Certain exercises focus on improving posture, which is crucial for reducing strain on your lower back. By strengthening the muscles that support good posture, you can alleviate pressure on your spine and prevent future pain.
  4. Enhances Joint Health: Exercise also promotes joint health by increasing blood flow and delivering essential nutrients to the spine. This can help reduce inflammation and stiffness, contributing to pain relief.

Recommended Exercises

Now, let’s talk about some exercises that can help alleviate lower back pain:

  1. Core Strengthening: Planks, bird dogs, and bridges are excellent for strengthening the core muscles, which play a key role in supporting the spine.
  2. Stretching: Cat-cow stretches, hamstring stretches, and trunk rotations can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness in the lower back.
  3. Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise: Activities like walking, swimming, or cycling can improve overall fitness and promote circulation without putting excessive strain on your lower back.
  4. Yoga and Pilates: These practices focus on strengthening and stretching exercises that are particularly beneficial for individuals with lower back pain.

Important Tips

While exercise can be incredibly beneficial, it’s essential to approach it safely:

  1. Start Slowly: If you’re new to exercise or have been inactive for a while, start with gentle exercises and gradually increase intensity.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise. If you experience pain, stop and reassess. It’s normal to feel some discomfort, but sharp or worsening pain could indicate a problem.
  3. Stay Consistent: Consistency is key to reaping the benefits of exercise. Aim for regular workouts to build strength and flexibility over time.
  4. Consult a Professional: If you have chronic or severe lower back pain, it’s wise to consult a healthcare professional or a physical therapist. They can provide personalized guidance and recommend specific exercises tailored to your needs.

A female athlete injured her back during morning exercises at home

What not to do when you have lower back pain?

Knowing what not to do when you have lower back pain is just as important as understanding what actions can help. Here’s a straightforward guide to what you should avoid:

Ignoring the Pain

Ignoring lower back pain and hoping it will go away on its own is a common mistake. While some mild discomfort might subside with rest, persistent or severe pain could indicate an underlying issue that needs attention.

Bed Rest for Extended Periods

While rest is essential during the acute phase of lower back pain, prolonged bed rest can actually worsen the condition. It can lead to muscle stiffness, and weakened muscles, and even contribute to depression or anxiety. Instead, aim for short periods of rest followed by gentle movement.

Avoiding Physical Activity Altogether

While strenuous activity might exacerbate your pain, avoiding all physical activity can hinder your recovery. Gentle exercises and movement can actually help alleviate pain and prevent muscle stiffness. Consult a healthcare professional for guidance on suitable exercises.

Neglecting Proper Posture

Poor posture can strain your lower back muscles and worsen existing pain. Avoid slouching or sitting for extended periods without proper support. Practice good posture habits, like sitting up straight and using ergonomic chairs or cushions if necessary.

Overlooking Stress Management

Stress can contribute to muscle tension and exacerbate lower back pain. Neglecting stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or relaxation exercises can impede your recovery. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine to promote overall well-being.

Heavy Lifting Without Proper Technique

Lifting heavy objects with improper technique can strain your lower back muscles and lead to injury. Always use proper lifting techniques, like bending your knees, keeping your back straight, and lifting with your legs instead of your back. When possible, ask for help or use lifting aids. This also applies to excessive exercise as well.


Smoking is not only detrimental to your overall health but can also impede your body’s ability to heal. Nicotine restricts blood flow, which can hinder the delivery of essential nutrients to your muscles and tissues, delaying recovery from lower back pain.

Relying Solely on Pain Medication

While pain medication can provide temporary relief, relying solely on medication to manage lower back pain without addressing the underlying cause is not ideal. Long-term use of pain medication can have adverse side effects and may not effectively address the root issue. Instead, seek comprehensive treatment options that address both pain relief and rehabilitation.

Ignoring Warning Signs

Ignoring warning signs like numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs or feet could indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as a herniated disc or nerve compression. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.

Skipping Professional Evaluation

If your lower back pain persists or worsens despite self-care measures, it’s crucial to seek evaluation from a healthcare professional. They can assess your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

What is the best exercise to relieve lower back pain?

Lower back pain is a common issue faced by many people daily. Exercise often serves as a helpful remedy for alleviating back pain and preventing future discomfort. The following exercises target the back and its supporting muscles, promoting both flexibility and strength.

When starting out, perform each exercise a few times, gradually increasing repetitions as you become more comfortable. If you’re initiating an exercise routine to address ongoing back pain or following a back injury, it’s wise to consult with a physical therapist or another healthcare professional to ensure safety and suitability.

Young woman practicing pilates at the gym

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Using both hands, bring one knee up toward your chest.
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles and press your spine against the floor.
  4. Hold for five seconds, then return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the other leg, then with both legs simultaneously.
  6. Perform each stretch 2 to 3 times. Ideally, aim to complete the routine once in the morning and once in the evening.

Lower Back Rotational Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Keep your shoulders firmly planted on the floor.
  3. Slowly rotate your bent knees to one side.
  4. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Gently return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
  7. Perform each stretch 2 to 3 times. Aim to complete the full routine in the morning and evening if possible.

Lower Back Flexibility Exercise

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Tighten your belly muscles, lifting your lower back away from the floor.
  • Hold for five seconds, then relax.
  • Flatten your back, pulling your bellybutton toward the floor.
  • Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat.
  • Start with five repetitions a day and gradually increase to 30.

Fitness woman doing exercises in the city park

Bridge Exercise

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep shoulders and head relaxed on the floor.
  • Tighten belly and buttock muscles, raising hips to form a straight line from knees to shoulders.
  • Hold for three deep breaths, then return to the starting position. Repeat.
  • Begin with five repetitions a day and gradually increase to 30.

Cat Stretch

  • Kneel on your knees and hands.
  • Arch your back, lifting your belly toward the ceiling as you lower your head.
  • Slowly let your back and belly sag toward the floor as you raise your head.
  • Return to starting position. Repeat.
  • Do 3 to 5 repetitions twice a day.

Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretch

  • Sit on a chair or stool without arms.
  • Cross your right leg over your left.
  • Place your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twisting and stretching to the side.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
  • Do this stretch 3 to 5 times on each side twice a day.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  • Sit upright on a chair or stool.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat.
  • Do 3 to 5 repetitions twice a day.

In conclusion

Managing lower back pain involves a holistic approach that addresses both physical and lifestyle factors. By incorporating targeted exercises to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and promote better posture, individuals can experience significant relief from discomfort.

Additionally, adopting healthy habits such as maintaining a proper diet, managing stress levels, and avoiding activities that exacerbate pain can further support long-term back health. Remember, consistency is key, and it’s essential to listen to your body and consult with healthcare professionals if needed. With dedication and patience, you can take control of your lower back pain and embark on a journey toward a happier, healthier spine.