Best lower back pain exercises & stretches

Best lower back pain exercises & stretches

Posted 1 Apr '22

If you've experienced lower back pain, you know how uncomfortable it can be - and how much it can affect your day-to-day life.

There are many conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom, but one of the most common reasons for lower back pain is muscle sprains or strains that have been caused by sudden movements, or awkward positions.

If your lower back pain has come on suddenly, after an injury or a result of a specific movement, then there's a good chance that you could have strained your back or experienced a muscle tear. A back strain occurs when a ligament is stretched too far or torn whereas a muscle tear is when a muscle in your back has been injured and has a tear in it. Both of these conditions can be extremely painful, and there are different levels of severity.

Another common cause of back pain is a slipped disk. Your spine has small jelly-filled disks that work to protect the space between the vertebrae. When one of these disks breaks it can push on a nerve, causing sciatica. If you suspect you have sciatica, you can check out our guide on the best sciatica exercises & stretches here [insert link].

In this article, we'll discuss symptoms of a back strain or muscle tear, how to prevent it from happening, and some of the best exercises to build strength and stretches for lower back pain relief.

Conditions related to lower back pain

If you have lower back pain, it could be a symptom of one of the following conditions:

Exercises for the lower back

Russian twist

  1. Lie down on your back with both of your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lift at your abs and raise your back and feet off the ground, so your body forms a 'v' shape.
  3. Clasp your hands together in the air in the middle.
  4. Gently twist your torso and clasped hands to the right, and then reverse and twist to the left.
  5. Repeat this movement ten times to complete a set.
  6. Repeat this exercise twice more, to complete a total of three sets.


  1. Lie down flat on the ground on your stomach, with your legs out straight behind you, and your arms stretched out in front.
  2. Engage your core muscles and raise both your legs and arms off the ground, so that the tension is felt through the abdominal region. For an extra workout, you can clench your buttock muscles too.
  3. Make sure you keep your head straight and look forward to avoiding causing a neck injury.
  4. Hold this position for three seconds.
  5. Return to the starting position where you are flat on the ground.
  6. Repeat this exercise nine more times to create a set.
  7. Repeat this exercise twice more, to complete a total of three sets.

Pelvic tilts

  1. Lie with your back on the floor and your knees bent.
  2. Contract your abdominal muscles and gently arch your back and push your stomach towards the ceiling.
  3. Hold this position for five seconds.
  4. Relax back into the starting position.
  5. Repeat this exercise nine more times to create a set.
  6. Repeat this exercise twice more, to complete a total of three sets.

Stretching exercises for the lower back

Child's Pose

  1. Position yourself on the ground on all fours, with your weight distributed evenly through your hands and knees.
  2. Lean your weight back so that your bottom is touching the back of your calves.
  3. Stretch your arms out as far as you can in front of you, with your palms facing upwards.
  4. Hold this position for one minute, and exhale and inhale deeply during this time.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat this twice more for a total of three stretches.

Knee to chest stretch

  1. Lie flat on your back, with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Grab your left leg with both hands, and bend your left knee so that you can gently pull your leg up into your chest.
  3. Clasp your hand behind your left thigh, and hold that position to feel the stretch.
  4. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
  5. Do the same stretch on the other leg.
  6. Repeat this twice more on each leg for a total of three stretches.

Downward Dog

  1. Start on all fours, with your weight distributed evenly and your hands and knees shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your weight off your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor and your bottom is pointing to the sky, to form a triangular shape with your body.
  3. Ensure that your shoulders are sitting over your wrists and your toes are pointing forward.
  4. Hold this stretch for thirty seconds.
  5. Repeat this stretch twice more.

Aerobic Exercise for lower back pain

Sometimes lower back pain can be helped significantly from light and low impact aerobic exercise. An example of this is back pain that's caused by sitting in a slouched position for a long period of time.

However, a strained back or a back with a muscle tear may cause the condition to be worsened through aerobic exercise. For severe strains and muscle tears, rest and activity avoidance are highly recommended. Many cases of sciatica can be worsened - and be considerably harder to treat - if aerobic exercise is done.

For this reason, you should always consult a medical professional before doing any exercises or sport if you are experiencing lower back pain.

Tips to Prevent lower back pain

Strengthen your core muscles

You can help to prevent lower back pain by strengthening muscles through the core of your body so that your spine is well supported. Lower back pain is commonly caused by weak abdominal muscles because the abdominals sit at the core of the spine. So, if these muscles are weak and aren't able to support your spine properly, then other muscles - like your back muscles - will have to take on excessive stress, which can lead to a back injury. To target and build the abdominal muscles specifically, you can do the 'Russian twist' as detailed above.

Invest in a good office chair

If you work full-time hours in an office job, you'll probably spend around 30-40 hours a week sitting in a desk chair working at a computer in front of you. This position can be very stressful for your spine, and make you prone to lower back pain.

Slouching forward while at a desk is damaging to your spine as it can cause problems like disc degeneration. There are many ergonomic office chairs on the market that can help you align correctly and support your back properly.

Practice yoga

Many yoga poses, like the downward dog and child's pose, are great for stretching and aligning the spine. They also help to relieve tension and strengthen the surrounding muscles and make the back more flexible. All of these things can significantly help prevent back injuries.

Even if you're not an avid yogi, regularly stretching at just one yoga session per week can help to prevent muscles tears and strains from occurring in the back.

Learn how to lift properly

Lifting things up is almost a daily occurrence for many people - and even if you're lifting something light, if you move the wrong way you can cause a tear or strain to happen in your lower back. Learning to lift correctly is very easy, and is a great preventative measure for lower back pain. When lifting anything, you should ensure that you always bend from the knees, rather than lean over and the waist to pick up the item.

Stay within a healthy weight range

Extra body weight adds extra stress on the spine and joints and excessive belly fat can cause the lower back to slant forward. Both of these things can cause back strains and sprains. To avoid putting extra stress on your back, you should try and stay within a healthy weight range for your height. A good measurement is a BMI (body mass index) which is a figure that measures body far that is calculated by your weight and height.

When to see a podiatrist about lower back pain

A podiatrist is a doctor of the lower limbs and feet, so you may be wondering how they can help with lower back pain? If lower back pain is caused by sciatica, then it's something that podiatrist actually specialise in, because this nerve runs all the way down through the legs.

A podiatrist is a trained medical professional and will be able to assess your condition and determine whether treatment from them is best - of if you need help from a chiropractor, physiotherapist, GP or surgeon. In many cases, where a GP suspects sciatica, they will actually refer patients to a podiatrist for further testing.

Book your appointment with our podiatry team online here or call us on (07) 3356 3579.

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