Top five low back rehabilitation exercises

02 February 2018

Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide (Global Burden of Disease, 2010). It is one of the most common reasons for time off work and most people you meet will have suffered with low back pain at some stage in their life.


Current evidence moves away from long periods of rest and immobility and encourages exercises and regular movement as the key to a healthy back and healthy lifestyle. We see this daily in our Physiotherapy clinics, and whether the cause of the pain is stress, spinal muscles, ligaments, tendons, intervertebral discs or spinal nerves, the majority of people find reduction in their pain and a return to normal activities and life with simple, graded low back exercises.


So here they are for you to try. And you don’t have to be recovering from an injury to do these exercises – they will be beneficial to anyone who has a sedentary job, does a lot of driving or just can’t get out and exercise as much as they’d like to. We recommend you spend five to ten minutes a day working through the exercise slowly and with control. You can try them either on the floor or in bed.


Note that you should not experience severe pain at any point during these exercises – if you do, you should consult you GP or come and see us in the clinic where we are on hand to offer advice and help.


Stretching exercises


Exercise 1 – Knee Hug

This exercise focuses on stretching out the low back, relieving stiffness and tension.

Lie on your back and hug both knees to your chest.

Hold for 20 to 30 seconds three times and feel the gentle stretch in the low back and buttocks.

If you find this too hard, try hugging just one knee at a time.


Exercise 2 – Knee Rolls

This exercise also focuses on stretching out the low back and relieving stiffness.

Keeping your back flat to the floor, allow you knees to roll to the left and right.

Rest in each position for 10 to 20 seconds 3 times each way.

You should feel a gentle pull through the hips and lower spine.


Strengthening exercises


The following three exercises are for strength and lower back stability, “The Core”. As you strengthen your lower back muscles, you reduce fatigue and train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, abdomen and hips to work in unity.


Exercise 3 – Bridge

Start with knees bent and your back flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips up off the floor making sure you keep your arms at your sides for balance.

Hold this position for approximately 5 seconds and then relax back down.

You should feel a slight pull/effort in you low back and legs.

Repeat this 10 times.


Exercise 4 – Scissors

Keep your back flat on the floor with your arms at your sides for support.

Lift your legs to 90 degrees and hold this position for a count of 5 to 8 seconds.

If this is easy, try a cycle/scissors motion forward and backward with your legs.

Try to repeat this 8 times


Exercise 5 – Superman

In a four-point kneeling position (hands below shoulders and knees below hips) lift one arm and the opposite leg. This exercise challenges your balance so take it slowly.

Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds, and repeat 5 times on each side

You should feel the effort and work in the low back. If you find this easy, bring your hands together, below your head to reduce you base of support and challenge your core stability further.