Exercises for Lower Back Pain: Strengthening and Stretching Exercises

Exercises That Can Help Ease Lower Back Pain

Do you ever find it difficult to bend forward because of low back pain? What about if you sit for extended periods? Or have you noticed an achy lower back lately when in a standing position? And searching for the best exercises for Lower Back Pain that include Strengthening and Stretching Exercises, then you are in the right place.

How about wishing you could lift your little one or even a bag of groceries to shoulder height more easily? Do you want to improve your weight lifting capacity? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you might benefit from workouts that help strengthen and improve the flexibility of your lower back.

Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain to reduce lower back pain

Lower back pain is incredibly prolific. While increasing the strength and flexibility in your lower back muscles can help alleviate some issues. The lumbar region of your back is the main body weight-bearing section of your spine.

The stronger your lower back is the better your posture, athletic performance, and mobility. You’ll also be less likely to suffer from lower back pain.

It can be tricky to train because the muscles are deep and supported by other superficial muscles, including the abs and glutes.

Back Muscles: Anatomy of Upper, Middle & Lower Back

These best lower back exercises help to strengthen the Lower Back and improve the lower back pain. But first, you need to understand back muscle anatomy and functionality. The back consists of several layers of muscle, stacked like a sandwich. The muscles of the back subdivide into three categories.

  • The upper back is made up of a large triangular-shaped muscle called the trapezius.
  • The middle back consists of the latissimus dorsi.
  • The lower back is made up of the erector spine muscles.

The lower back is made up of the erector spinae muscles that run alongside the entire length of the spinal column. In the lumbar region, the erector spinae split into three columns: the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis.

These muscles are the pillars of strength in the lower back that stabilize the spine and extend the torso, arching the spine backward.

erector spinae

This Blog contains the description of the best lower back exercises that focus on alleviating lower back pain strengthen lower back muscles, deep spinae erectors, and also strengthen the Glutes, Hamstring, Quadriceps, Obliques, Rectus Abdominis.

The back exercises are divided into body-weight exercises, dumbbell exercises, extensions.

Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Here are the 17 Best Exercises for Lower Back Pain

1. Superman

Superman is one of the best exercises to strengthen your upper and lower back muscles. If done regularly, the Superman exercises may help alleviate lower back pain that is related to weak back muscles.

In addition, to strengthen back muscles, Superman also works on your glutes and your hamstring muscles.

Superman Exercise
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector Spinae.

Secondary: Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings.

Execution Technique
  1. Lay with your stomach flat on the ground. Extend your arms in front of you, with your palms facing down.
  2. Lift your head and raise your arms and your chest off the ground as far as possible.
  3. Bend your legs and lift your thighs off the ground, as much as possible. (Try to make a big “U” with your back.)
  4. At this point, you should feel your back muscles, your glutes and hamstrings tighten up.
Tips
  • Try holding for only five or 10 seconds at first time and work up to 30 seconds in future workouts.
  • Do not hold your breath. Breathe regularly.

2. Hip Bridge

The hip bridge is a good starter move for butt, hamstring, and low back muscles. It is the best exercise to manage chronic lower back pain.

When you spend the majority of your day sitting, your glute muscles can get weaker, while the hip flexors in the front of your thighs can shorten, making them feel tight.

Eventually, you will end up slouching as your tight hip flexors pull you forward and your glutes aren’t strong enough to pull you upright.

But when you practice glute bridges regularly you are targeting your glutes and your lower back muscles, those muscles that are meant to hold your body upright will be getting stronger.

Hip Bridge
Muscles Involved

Primary: Gluteus Maximus, Erector Spinae.

Secondary: Obliques, Quadriceps, Rectus Abdominis, and Hamstring.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie faceup on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line.
  3. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise.
  4. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
Tips
  • Do not push with your arms.
  • Don’t overextend your back during the exercises, this may cause lower back pain.
  • To make the Hip bridge exercise more difficult, hold a weight plate on your lap.

3. Good Morning Exercise

The good-morning is a weight training exercise. It is known as a good morning because of the movement in the erector spinae which resembles the rise out of bed to stretch.

The erector spinae muscles of the lower back work isometrically to keep the spine in an extended position while the hamstrings and gluteus maximus work isotonically to perform hip extension.

When done with solid spinal alignment and perfect form, the good morning is one of the best exercises that can be a great move for improving your back health and alleviate your lower back pain.

To allow your lower back to adapt to the good morning exercise, start with a lightweight or with a stick and slowly add more weight.

Good Morning Exercise
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector spinae.

Secondary: Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus, and Hamstrings.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand holding a Stick on the back of your shoulders, grasping the Stick at each side. Can also perform the exercise as in the bodyweight version.
  2. Keeping your knees slightly flexed and your back and neck neutral, inhale as you flex your hips to lower your torso until it is close to, or fully, horizontal.
  3. Exhale as you raise your torso back up to the starting position by extending your hips.
Tips
  • Keep your back and neck neutral throughout the exercise.
  • It is recommended that the lifter avoid rounding (flexing), or rotation (twisting) at any point during the movement.
  • Keep the movement slow, the form strict, and the weight light.
  • Complete the desired number of repetitions.

4. Dumbbell Deadlift

Dumbbell Deadlift Exercise is the best variation of the classic barbell deadlift. The deadlift is the King of all exercises and It is a powerful exercise designed to build an overall physique and help to improve lower back pain.

The deadlift is the best exercise for posterior chain muscle strengthening. This chain includes the erector spine, glutes, and hamstrings.

If you want to do one exercise to work your whole body, including the lower back, upper back, triceps, legs, and buttocks, it should be a deadlift.

The Deadlift exercise can be performed using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. One of the biggest benefits of using dumbbells for deadlifts is that they increase the range of motion you can work with compared to barbell deadlifts.

Dumbbell Deadlift
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector spinae, Gluteals, Hamstrings.

Secondary: Trapezius, Latissimus dorsi, Quadriceps, Forearms.

Execution Technique
  1. Place a dumbbell in front of you. Grab the Dumbbells in each of your hand. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible and contract your back and hamstrings.
  2. Raise the dumbbell from the ground using your hamstrings and glutes. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight, and head looking up.
  3. Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine. Hold the bar for a moment at the top of the lift and remember to lockout.
  4. Now, lower the dumbbell slowly at a steady slow pace by bending at the hips first and then at the knees and let the weight touch the ground for a moment before you begin the next rep.
Tips
  • Do not go through half of the exercise, complete the lift.
  • Deadlift is one of the best Exercises for improve lower back strength and reduce Lower Back Pain, but dont do this exercises if you have pain and feel pain while during it.
  • If a deadlift is performed incorrectly, it can cause more harm than good. Keep the back straight at all costs.
  • Lower back muscles take along to recuperate. Hence heavy deadlifts should be done once a week.
  • Avoid jerky movements and keep motion-controlled.

5. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swing (AKA Russian swing) is a basic ballistic exercise used to train the posterior chain.

It involves moving the bell in a pendulum motion from between the knees to anywhere between eye level to fully overhead and can be performed either two-handed or using one hand.

You’ll use your lower back muscles to stabilize your upper body throughout the swing and you’ll achieve a small concentric contraction at the top of the move.

Kettlebell Swing
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector Spinae, Gluteus Maximus

Secondary: Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Anterior Deltoid, Lateral Deltoid, Soleus.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, with the kettlebell on the floor just behind you.
  2. Bend your knees to grab the kettlebell behind you. Make sure to tilt at the hips, pushing your butt backward. Keep your chest up and back straight. Slowly swing the kettlebell backward and up between your legs.
  3. As the kettlebell starts to swing forward, forcefully extend your hips and knees to swing the kettlebell up in front of you. At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes.
  4. Repeat in a continuous loop for a full set. 
Tips
  • Do not squat down as you swing the kettlebell. The motion should be in your hips.
  • Do not use your arms to swing the kettlebell up. The movement should be created by the hip thrust.

6. Flat bench hyperextension

Flat Bench Hyperextension exercise directly hits the erector spinae muscles building a strong back. This is one of the best exercises that reduce the lower back pain

It helps to build the lower back Erector spinae muscles. This exercise is done on a Flat bench. Making Hyperextensions difficult, you can also hold a plate to your chest or behind the head for additional resistance. If the exercise becomes easy, then you can do a lot of reps.

Flat bench hyperextension
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector spinae.

Secondary: Latissimus dorsi, Gluteals, Hamstrings.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie face down on a flat bench with your torso extending off the end, and hook your heels under the bench to prevent yourself from falling forward.
  2. Place your hands on your chest (or behind your neck) and bend down through your waist.
  3. Return to the start position but avoid extending beyond the body level.
  4. Do the desired number of reps and sets.
 Tips
  • Avoid hyperextension beyond the body level.
  • Keep movement always under control without letting gravity take you down faster.
7. Lumbar Hyperextension

Hyperextension exercise directly hits the erector spinae muscles building a strong back. It helps to build the lower back Erector spinae muscles. Due don’t do this lower back exercise if you feel pain.

This exercise is done on a hyperextension Bench/Roman Chair. Making Hyperextensions difficult, you can also hold a plate to your chest or behind the head for additional resistance. If the exercise becomes easy, then you can do a lot of reps.

Lumbar Hyperextension
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector spinae.

Secondary: Latissimus dorsi, Gluteals, Hamstrings.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie face down on a Hyperextension bench and hook your legs under support.
  2. Place your hands on your chest (or behind your neck) and bend down through your waist until you reach a 90 degree bend.
  3. Return to the start position but avoid extending beyond the body level.
  4. Do the desired number of reps and sets.
 Tips
  • Avoid hyperextension beyond the body level.
  • Keep movement always under control without letting gravity take you down faster.
  • Lumbar extension is one of the best Exercises for improve lower back strength and reduce Lower Back Pain, but dont do this exercises if you have pain and feel pain while during it.

8. Bird Dog Exercise

The bird dog is an exercise that looks elegant and is also very effective for training the abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. Several other muscles are also addressed, including the glutes. 

The bird dog is a real stability exercise that ensures a stable trunk. It owes its name to the position which alternates between sitting on hands and knees (dog) and stretching the arms and legs (bird).

Bird Dog Exercise
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector Spinae.

Secondary: Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Anterior Deltoid, Lateral Deltoid.

Execution Technique
  1. Get on your knees and place your hands on the floor in front of your body at shoulder width.
  2. Contract your abs and lift one hand and the opposite knee slightly off the floor. You are now balancing on the other hand and knee.
  3. Now extend your arm and leg all the way out. Try to form a straight plane from your hand to your foot.
  4. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other side.
Tips
  • This exercise gets harder when you perform the exercise on your toes instead of your knees.
  • Don’t raise your leg and arm higher than your back. The exercise works best when you form a straight plane from your hand to your ankles.

9. Lying Bent-Knee Twist

Lying Bent Knee twist is a bodyweight exercise that builds muscle and strength in the obliques. This is a great moderate move and when done correctly, it can effectively target your core and waist. Lying bent-knee twist is one of the Best Exercises for Lower Back Pain.

This exercise can act as a stretch, but the main purpose is to stabilize your core and strengthen your obliques. In everyday life, your posture will benefit from this antidote to sitting and hunching overwork

The lying bent-knee oblique twist is an isolation exercise you can do the weighted version of the exercise with a ball in between your legs.

Lying Bent-Knee Oblique Twist
Muscles Involved

Primary: Rectus abdominis, Obliques.

Secondary: Serratus anterior, Hip flexors.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie on back on the floor or mat with arms extended out to sides to keep your body stable during the exercise.
  2. Raise and bent legs at a 90-degree angle, so thighs are vertical and lower legs are horizontal.
  3. Keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor, slowly lower your legs to one side until you feel a mild stretch in your lower back.
  4. Now, rotate your legs all the way to the right. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Tips
  • Maintain knee position throughout movement.
  • Exhale as your legs rise, and inhale as they descend.
  • Keep your core tight during the movement to activate your obliques against resistance.

10. Lying Straight Leg Raise

Lying leg raises are touted as the best core exercise. But your hip flexors actually reap some major benefits of this move. So don’t be surprised if your hips feel a bit of the burn during this one. Lying leg raises can also help alleviate low back pain since it improves the overall strength and stabilization of your core.

Straight leg exercise is often used in Physical Therapy to help patients improve the strength of their lower extremities.

The straight leg raise exercise does not require you to bend the knee joint. This is encouraged when an individual has advanced arthritis in their knee. The straight leg raise exercise strengthens the muscles of the upper thigh and the quadriceps, without placing any stress on the knee joint.

You need no special equipment to do a straight leg raise other than space where you can lie on your back freely. To make the straight leg raise more challenging, add a small cuff weight to your leg.

Lying Straight Leg Raise abs Exercises
Muscles Involved

Primary: Rectus Abdominis (Upper)

Secondary: Obliques, Serratus anterior.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie faceup on the floor/bench with your entire body straight and your hands at your sides to stabilize your torso.
  2. Hold your legs a few inches off the floor.
  3. Raise your legs up toward the ceiling until they are just short of perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Tips
  • Keep your lower back pressed against the bench or mat.
  • Move slow and with control, making sure not to arch your back at any point in the move.

11. Plank

The front plank is a brilliant bodyweight exercise that helps you to develop the strength and stability of your core. Your muscles are exercised isometrically.

The most common plank is the forearm plank which is held in a push-up-like position, with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows, and toes. Many variations exist such as the side plank and the reverse plank.

The plank is more of a strength-building exercise than a cardio exercise, engaging a range of muscles can also help to boost your calorie burn.

To make the exercise more difficult, raise one leg off the ground and hold this position before repeating with the other leg.

Plank
Muscles Involved

Primary: Rectus Abdominis

Secondary: Obliques, Quadriceps, hip flexors (iliopsoas, rectus femoris).

Execution Technique
  1. Start to get in a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
  3. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
  4. Hold this position as directed.
Tips
  • Do not let your lower back sag or your butt rise. Ensure your body is straight and rigid.
  • Keep your glutes and core muscles contracted.
  • Your neck should be in line with your body, not tilted up, which could strain the neck.

12. Side Plank

The side plank is one of the best abs exercises for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles, which don’t get worked as much during abs exercises such as crunches.

You will hold your body on your side in a straight position supported only by one arm and the side of one foot. Strong obliques can be quite useful as core stabilization muscles.

If you’re new to planking, you should master the basic forearm plank before moving on to side plank variation. If you find it hard to hold a side plank, that’s OK. You can try performing the exercise from your knees instead of your feet while you’re building your strength.

Side Plank
Muscles Involved

Primary: Obliques, Rectus abdominis.

Secondary: Serratus anterior.

Execution Technique
  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top of the inner side of your right foot and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor.
  4. In this position, only your right forearm and the outer side of your right foot are making contact with the floor and your body forms a diagonal line that is at about a 20-degree angle to the floor.
  5. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold this position for as long as you can and then repeat on the left side.
Tips
  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during this oblique exercises.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

13. Dumbbell Side Bend

Dumbbell side bends are isolation exercises that target muscle groups on the side of your body—specifically the oblique muscles.

The dumbbell side bend is effective at targeting the internal and external obliques, strengthening the lateral flexion of your spine, improving spinal mobility, and helping to develop a strong and stable core. It is usually performed for relatively high reps, at least 8-12 reps per set or more. It can be performed one side at a time or alternating sides.

The dumbbell side bend is an easy core exercise to practice at home. If you’re new to the exercise, practice the movement with your bodyweight alone. For a more challenging variation, use a kettlebell or a pulley machine for the cable side bend variation.

Dumbbell Side Bend
Muscles Involved

Primary: Obliques, Rectus abdominis.

Secondary: Serratus anterior.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a dumbbell with a neutral grip in your right hand with your arm hanging at your side. You can place your free hand behind your head.
  2. Bend sideways at the waist to the left as low as possible using your oblique muscles to pull your torso down.
  3. Hold for a second and return to the starting position.
  4. Complete the desired number of reps and repeat on the other side.
Tips
  • Keep the dumbbell close to you side, your elbow very slightly bent, and your hips still.
  • Perform this exercise slow and steadily to work the obliques.
  • Avoid using a heavy dumbbell for this exercise. Large overdeveloped oblique muscles will make your waist appear bulky.
  • Always keep your back straight, eyes facing forwards, and bend at the torso only.

Best Foam Roller Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Foam rolling is also called myofascial release. It is a self-massage technique used only by professional athletes, coaches, and therapists.

Fascia is the thin tissue that connects our muscles. Think of it as your body’s internal packaging—it helps muscle groups cooperate as integrated units. When it’s healthy, fascia is flexible, supple, and glides smoothly over your muscles. But binding in your fascia can form for a variety of reasons, such as muscle injury, inactivity, disease, inflammation, or trauma. Even just sitting at a desk all day can get your fascia “gummed up” and stiff which can causes lower back pain.

Foam Rolling can help release that built-up tension in your fascia and re-establish the integrity (and optimal performance) of muscle tissue.

14. Upper back Thoracic Spine (Roll)

Upper back Thoracic Spine foam roller
  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent, placing your hands behind the back of the head (or infront of eyes by holding together), with the foam roller just below your shoulder blades.
  2. Lift your hips off the ­floor and slowly push through your heels to move back and forth from your mid-back to the top of your shoulder blades.
  3. Keep your spine and head aligned in a neutral position.
  4. When you find a sore spot, stop and hold the position for at least 10-30 seconds until you can feel the muscle relax.

15.Upper Back Thoracic Spine (Hold and Stretch)

Upper back Thoracic Spine hold foam roller
  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent, placing your hands behind the back of the head (or infront of eyes by holding together), with the foam roller just below your shoulder blades.
  2. Keep your hips on the floor with your feet hip width apart. Slowly begin to fold backwards.
  3. Keep your hips on the floor, supporting your head. Begin gently to bend backwards over the roller.
  4. Stopping at a point where it feels comfortable. Return back to the starting position and repeat.

16. Upper back (Thoracic Spine Cross Friction)

Upper back Thoracic Spine slide foam roller
  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent, placing your hands behind the back of the head (or infront of eyes by holding together), with the foam roller just below your shoulder blades.
  2. Keep your hips on the floor with your feet hip width apart.
  3. Position your back parallel to the floor, then begin move side to side in a sideways motion.

17. Gluteus maximus

Gluteus maximus foam roller
  1. Sit on top of the foam roller and cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Use your hand to steady yourself.
  2. Relax your leg and tilt toward the bent leg. Slowly roll from the top to the bottom of the glute muscle.
  3. When you find a sore spot, stop and hold the position for at least 30 seconds until you can feel the muscle relax. Switch sides.

Warnings

Always consult a doctor before beginning a new exercise program. For those experiencing persistent or strong pain in their backs, visit your healthcare provider or physical therapist before beginning a workout routine (even with a personal trainer). If you experienced a traumatic injury such as a fall or accident, always seek medical help and further evaluation to rule out serious conditions.

If these exercises cause your back pain to increasing, stop and seek medical help. Only work within your physical limits. Doing too much, or too fast can increase back pain and slow the healing process.

STAY FIT, LIVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY LIFE
Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before choosing to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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