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Lower Back Exercises
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Lower back exercises help heal and strengthen your back muscles to prevent another injury. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to see a physical therapist for more advanced exercises.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have severe pain that prevents you from moving.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your pain becomes worse.
- You have new pain.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Do lower back exercises safely:
- Do the exercises on a mat or firm surface (not on a bed) to support your spine and prevent low back pain.
- Move slowly and smoothly. Avoid fast or jerky motions.
- Breathe normally. Do not hold your breath.
- Stop if you feel pain. It is normal to feel some discomfort at first. Regular exercise will help decrease your discomfort over time.
Lower back exercises:
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you do back exercises 10 to 30 minutes each day. He may also recommend that you do exercises 1 to 3 times each day. Ask your healthcare provider which exercises are best for you and how often to do them.
- Ankle pumps: Lie on your back. Move your foot up (with your toes pointing toward your head). Then, move your foot down (with your toes pointing away from you). Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side.
- Heel slides: Lie on your back. Slowly bend one leg and then straighten it. Next, bend the other leg and then straighten it. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Pelvic tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms in a relaxed position beside your body. Tighten the muscles of your abdomen and flatten your back against the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Back stretch: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Bend your knees and turn the lower half of your body to one side. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Straight leg raises: Lie on your back with one leg straight. Bend the other knee. Tighten your abdomen and then slowly lift the straight leg up about 6 to 12 inches off the floor. Hold for 1 to 5 seconds. Lower your leg slowly. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
- Knee-to-chest: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull one of your knees toward your chest and hold it there for 5 seconds. Return your leg to the starting position. Lift the other knee toward your chest and hold for 5 seconds. Do this 5 times on each side.
- Cat and camel: Place your hands and knees on the floor. Arch your back upward toward the ceiling and lower your head. Round out your spine as much as you can. Hold for 5 seconds. Lift your head upward and push your chest downward toward the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets or as directed.
- Wall squats: Stand with your back against a wall. Tighten the muscles of your abdomen. Slowly lower your body until your knees are bent at a 45 degree angle. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Slowly move back up to a standing position. Repeat 10 times.
- Curl up: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands, palms down, underneath the curve in your lower back. Next, with your elbows on the floor, lift your shoulders and chest 2 to 3 inches. Keep your head in line with your shoulders. Hold this position for 5 seconds. When you can do this exercise without pain for 10 to 15 seconds, you may add a rotation. While your shoulders and chest are lifted off the ground, turn slightly to the left and hold. Repeat on the other side.
- Bird dog: Place your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Pull your belly button in toward your spine. Do not flatten or arch your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise one arm straight out so that it is aligned with your head. Next, raise the leg opposite your arm. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Lower your arm and leg slowly and change sides. Do 5 sets.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.