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Top Exercises to Alleviate Lower Back Discomfort

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

If you’re perusing this, you’ve likely encountered lower-back discomfort at least once in your life. The catalog of potential causes for this low back pain is extensive, to say the least.

To uncover the root cause of the issue, your optimal choice is to visit a physical therapist, osteopath, physiatrist, or orthopedist, according to Evie Vlahakis, a certified physical therapist based in New York City. Physical therapists can assess your posture, stance, and gait while walking and running, and evaluate your flexibility and mobility through various movement patterns. They will then employ these observations to develop a therapy program that can “fortify weak areas and stretch tight areas, enhance alignment, and rectify any muscular imbalances,” all of which can contribute to alleviating back pain.

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

“The assortment of types of lower back pain is staggering,” as Vlahakis states. To start, anyone can experience lower back pain as a result of posture, genetics, lifestyle, work injuries, sports injuries, or simply from prolonged sitting. (Thank you, desk job!)

In the case of older adults, arthritis (the inflammation of joints or surrounding tissue) and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal) are also frequently responsible, notes Vlahakis. “The truth is, everything can overlap because ‘low back pain’ is such a general and vague term,” Vlahakis explains. “It can be an accumulation of repetitive strains or minor injuries.” Lower back pain can be acute, meaning it occurs suddenly, or it can be latent, indicating that the pain arises after an initial injury.

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain

There are small measures you can take at home to preempt lower back pain before it significantly affects your life and activities. Maintaining robust core muscles (which encompass your abs, obliques, the back muscles that stabilize your spine, your diaphragm, and your pelvic floor muscles) can help you avoid placing excessive strain on your lower back. “Activities like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are safe methods to strengthen for the purpose of preventing low back pain if you cannot lift weights or withstand impact,” notes Vlahakis. Additionally, utilizing proper posture while sitting at your desk, standing, and walking, can also make a difference, she suggests.

But if you’re already experiencing pain at this juncture, exercises focused on the lower back can also provide relief. The following five exercises from Annette Marshall Franey, a certified physical therapist based in East Hampton, New York, are suitable.

These exercises “aid in reducing discomfort in the lower back by enhancing blood circulation to that area, thereby reducing stiffness and expediting the healing process,” explains Marshall Franey. They collectively strengthen your abdominal muscles, encourage flexibility in the spine, and alleviate tension in the lower back. To fully benefit from these exercises, Marshall Franey suggests performing them twice daily.

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Finest Exercises for Alleviating Lower Back Pain

Pelvic Tilt

A. Start by lying face-up with your feet resting flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and your knees bent.

B. Inhale, while ensuring that your buttocks remain in contact with the floor, slowly arch your spine to raise your belly button and lower back towards the ceiling.

C. Exhale, and flatten your lower back by drawing your belly button towards the floor (your buttocks may lift slightly).

Complete five repetitions.


Depending on your comfort level and physical fitness, you may prefer to begin with a standing pelvic tilt using a wall for support.

A. Stand and lean against a wall to provide support for your back.

B. Inhale, and slightly bend your knees.

C. Exhale, and lift your pelvis away from the wall.

Complete five repetitions.

Abdominal Isometric Hold

A. Start by lying face-up with your feet resting flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and your knees bent.

B. Inhale. Exhale, and contract your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Hold this position for five seconds.

Complete five repetitions.


If you require a slight modification for this exercise, adjust the degree to which you contract your abdominal muscles based on your comfort level. You can also shorten the duration of each contraction and reduce the number of repetitions until you can comfortably hold the contraction for five seconds.

Lower Trunk Rotation Stretch

A. Start by lying face-up with your feet resting flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and your knees bent.

B. Keeping your shoulders flat on the floor, lower both knees to the right side (allowing the lower back to lift off the floor slightly to accommodate the twist). Hold this position for five seconds, then raise your knees towards the ceiling to return to the starting position.

Complete two to three repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.


To modify the trunk rotation, only lower your knees to each side as far as is comfortable. Your knees do not need to touch the floor.

A. Stretch your arms out to the side and press your hands into the floor to maintain proper form.

B. To support your lumbar region, tighten your core muscles before lowering your knees to the side.

Single-Knee Embrace

A. Begin by lying face-up with the soles of your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent, positioned hip-width apart.

B. Interlock your hands behind your right thigh near the knee, pulling the knee towards your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in your lower back and hip. Keep your core engaged and hold this position for five seconds.

C. Release your hands and return your foot to the floor, going back to the starting position.

Perform two to three repetitions. Then, switch sides and repeat the exercise.


If lying flat on the floor without support for your head and neck feels uncomfortable, place a small pillow or towel beneath them. You can also use a towel under your knee if you need assistance in bringing it towards your chest.

Gluteal Bridge

A. Start by lying face-up with the soles of your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent, positioned hip-width apart.

B. Inhale and press your feet into the floor, elevating your buttocks off the ground by contracting your glutes. Be careful not to arch your lower back and maintain strong activation in your core. Ensure that your knees remain aligned with your ankles.

C. Exhale and slowly lower your buttocks back to the ground, returning to the starting position.

Complete three sets of 10 repetitions, resting as needed.


If you are new to the gluteal bridge exercise, adjust it by lifting your buttocks only as high as is comfortable for you. You can also modify the movement by holding the raised position for a shorter duration and reducing the number of repetitions.

Precautions and Warnings

Always consult a healthcare professional before initiating any exercise regimen, especially if you have chronic or severe back pain. Adapt the exercises according to your fitness level and individual requirements. Start slowly and increase the number of repetitions based on your comfort level.

If you encounter any discomfort or if your existing lower back pain worsens during these exercises, cease the activity and seek advice from a medical professional.

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