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  • Writer's picturePursuit of Motion

Low Back Pain is Such a Pain

One surprising fact is that 60-80% of individuals worldwide have low back pain at one point in their life, whether minor or serious. If your pain is severe or you have pain or numbness going down your legs past your knees, then you should come see your physiotherapist to assess what is wrong before you try any of these exercises.

Management Tips

The first tip is to stay moving. Go for a short walk, change seating positions at regular intervals, or anything that will get you up and going around.

The second tip is to set reasonable expectations. Make sure you stay positive and make realistic goals. The pain isn't going away in a week but that doesn’t mean it will never get better. Research shows that setting realistic expectations will lead to better results.

Exercising and Back Pain

Research shows that certain exercise is beneficial for low back pain. Resistance training and aerobic training both showed positive changes in terms of pain and function. When performed together they showed no difference. This means that doing one or the other rather than both will lead to positive changes and improve pain and function.

Exercises for low back pain can be put into two groups, mobility and stability. The first set of exercises is for those who have low mobility, feel stiff, or sore, or notice you don’t have a full range of motion. If you are experiencing instability, or feeling weak and unstable, then follow the exercises below.


First Exercise:

The first stretch for back mobility will stretch the lower back and glutes. Start on your back and ensure your lower back remains flat against the ground. Take one leg over and sideways across your body until you feel a stretch in the lower back area and glutes.

Ensure that your lower back is not twisting and remains in contact with the mat and hold this stretch for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides and repeat three times.

Second Exercise:

The next stretch is the child’s pose stretch, and there are multiple variations you can do to target different muscles. Starting on your hands and knees, walk your hands forward and push your hips back until your arms are stretched out in front of you while you lean back towards your heels. If you want to target different muscles, you can walk your hands slightly to the left or right to feel a pull along the sides of your back.

Third Exercise:

Another great stretch is the quadratus lumborum stretch. It can easily be done against a wall. Standing perpendicular to the wall, bring your hands to the wall so that one is beside you on the wall and the arm farthest from the wall is stretching over your head to contact the wall. Push away from the wall with your lower hand and move/rotate your hips until you feel a stretch in your back or side. Shift your hips to target the different muscles of your back, such as the quadratus lumborum or your lats.


The next set of exercises will be for back stability, and these are good for back strength and motor control.

First Exercise:

Starting on your back, the first exercise is called dead bug. While on your back, start with your hips and your knees at 90 degrees, and your arms straight up at 90 degrees.

The most important part of this exercise is to push your lower back into the ground and maintain this for the duration of the exercise. If you can keep your lower back pressed into the mat, you can try some variations of this exercise.

The first variation is extending a single leg at a time while keeping your other leg and arms in the same position at 90 degrees. A harder variation of this exercise is extending the opposite leg and arm and then returning to the start position, alternating sides each time and ensuring the lower back remains pressed into the mat. Try this exercise for 3 sets until fatigue (when you are unable to keep your back pressed into the mat). 

Second Exercise:

Another stability exercise is bird-dog. Starting on your hands and knees, ensure your back stays flat and it is not arched, or your butt is not sticking out. Slowly extend one leg back at a time while ensuring your back stays flat and level and return to the starting position.

If that is easy you can also extend the opposite arm and leg. Perform this exercise three times until fatigue (when you are unable to maintain proper technique or back position).

Third Exercise:

The next strengthening exercise you can try is band twists. Wrap a band around a post or pole at waist level, and face square to one side with both arms straight ahead holding the end of the band in your hands. Keeping your arms extended, twist the band away from the pole and slowly return to the starting position. Try this exercise 3 times until fatigue, or until you are unable to maintain proper technique.

Fourth Exercise:

Similar to the previous exercise, you can also try wood chops for back strengthening. Start with the band higher up on the pole so that you are pulling it at an angle, and slowly pull the band down diagonally while maintaining straight arms. Return to the starting position slowly, repeating this exercise for 3 sets until fatigue.

Another variation of this exercise is pulling diagonally from the bottom, ensuring the arms stay straight and you are returning to the starting position slowly.

If you experience low back mobility or stability issues, give these exercises a try. It is always a good idea to check in with your physiotherapist if you experience any pain, especially if your back pain extends down your legs. Let us know how we can help!


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