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Life Changing Exercises For Low Back Pain Prevention

As a seasoned physical therapist, my years of experience have taught me that combating low back pain requires a multifaceted approach. While there's no one-size-fits-all solution, incorporating targeted exercises into your routine can be life-changing.

In this article, I'll guide you through six evidence-backed exercises that not only help reduce low back pain but that also enhance your overall spinal health. Let's dive into what these transformative exercises are and how they can help you regain control and comfort in your day to day life.

Physical therapy is the gold standard for back pain treatment

Why Use Physical Therapy Exercises For Low Back Pain Prevention?

For some time now physical therapy has been viewed as the gold standard for managing low back pain. Until recently, however, not everyone has been able to access this type of therapy. But with the rise of digital physical therapy companies more people are now able to participate in physical therapy - either in person - or digitally.

Physical therapy programs provide you with dedicated and unobstructed time to focus on healing your body and your back. Your physical therapy program should also hopefully motivate you to keep going to your workouts and keep you on the healing track. This is an essential part of the journey because staying motivated can be hard!

physical therapists can help you stay motivated

If you’ve already made an appointment, you will feel more responsibility to actually show up. If you have the right physical therapist (or physical therapy program) they should make you feel excited to be there and look forward to working on yourself.

Another reason why a physical therapy program can be better than just doing exercises on your own is that sometimes exercises can be downright confusing. It can be difficult to do the exercises by yourself, and certain ones can even cause more pain if they’re not done the right way. A therapist can observe you, make sure you’re doing everything correctly, and give you feedback on how to do them better.

Finally, physical therapy isn’t just a place to get better—it’s also a place to get educated. The goal is not to be in therapy forever, but to learn the exercises that you can take home and incorporate into your own day to day routine.

pelvic tilts can help manage low back pain

Best Physical Therapy Exercises For Low Back Pain

So, now that we know why physical therapy is so good for low back pain and how it can be better than just doing some exercises on your own at home, let's take a look at what some of the best physical therapy exercises are for treating low back pain.

1. Pelvic Tilts: The Foundation of Stability

A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that pelvic tilt exercises effectively reduce low back pain by enhancing lumbar stability and improving muscle coordination.

Personally, I love using these in physical therapy sessions because they are very simple exercises that don't put a lot of pressure on your spine. This means that virtually anyone can do them, and they actually feel quite relaxing.

pelvic tilts are great exercises for low back pain.

How To Do A Pelvic Tilt:

To do a pelvic tilt begin by lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently contract your abdominal muscles, pressing your lower back into the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this pelvic tilt for 10-15 reps.

This exercise engages your core, promoting stability and easing the strain on your lower back.

cat cow stretch is another popular pt exercise for low back pain

2. Cat-Cow Stretch: Embracing Spinal Flexibility

The American Council on Exercise highlights that regular flexibility exercises like the cat-cow stretch contribute to improved joint mobility and reduced back pain.

How To Do The Cat Cow Stretch

Assume a tabletop position on your hands and knees, making sure that your wrists are under your shoulders and that your knees are under your hips. Inhale, arching your back and lifting your head and tailbone toward the ceiling (Cow). Exhale, rounding your spine while tucking your chin to your chest (Cat).

Repeat this dynamic stretch for 10 cycles, enhancing spinal flexibility and reducing tension in the lower back.

bird dog exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your spine

3. Bird-Dog Exercise: Building Core Strength

A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research emphasizes that incorporating bird-dog exercises into your routine can significantly improve your spine's lumbar stability which is an important aspect when it comes to reducing your risk of low back pain developing either now, or in the future.

One of the best things about the bird dog exercise is just how much you can do with it. There are so many modifications that physical therapists can do with this exercise to meet clients where they are at. We can make them easier for you or we can make them more challenging as you progress.

bird dog exercises can be modified to meet you where you are at.

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Extend your right arm forward and left leg backward simultaneously, maintaining a straight line from head to heel. Hold for a few seconds, then switch sides. Perform 10 reps on each side.

The bird-dog exercise not only strengthens your core but it also make your lower back more stable, which means less chance of future strains and sprains.

bridge lifts are a simple but effective exercise for back pain

4. Bridge Exercise: Activating Glute Muscles

A systematic review in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine suggests that bridge exercises "effectively activate the gluteal muscles", playing a crucial role in preventing and managing low back pain.

I love any exercise that you can do lying down! It just makes things feel more relaxing and a relaxed body is one that is less prone to injury, plus you tend to feel more confident doing your exercises when you are relaxed.

Activating the gluteal muscles plays a crucial role in preventing and managing low back pain.

How To Do Bridge Exercises

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press through your heels, lifting your hips toward the ceiling while engaging your glutes. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat for 12-15 reps.

The bridge exercise targets your glute muscles, providing support to your lower back.

Child's Pose, helps release tension in the lower back and promotes relaxation.

5. Child's Pose: Relaxing and Stretching

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine highlights the positive impact of yoga poses, such as Child's Pose, in reducing chronic low back pain and improving overall well-being.

Child's pose is the ultimate exercise for a delicious stretch at the end of a workout - or on its own!

childs pose can have some different variations

How To Do Child's Pose:

Start in a kneeling position, then sit back on your heels while reaching your arms forward on the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, focusing on deep breathing.

This simple yet effective yoga pose, known as Child's Pose, helps release tension in the lower back and promotes relaxation. This is one of my personal favorites!

McGill curl ups are a great way to strengthen abdominal muscles

6. McGill Curl-Up: Targeting Abdominal Endurance

Dr. Stuart McGill is a renowned spine biomechanics expert. He advocates the effectiveness of the McGill curl-up in strengthening the core muscles and reducing the risk of low back pain.

McGill curl-ups put a lot less pressure on your spine compared to regular sit-ups. This makes them a great way to strengthen the abdominal muscles without harming your spine.

curl ups are better for back pain than sit ups

How To Do A McGill Curl-Up:

Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight. Place your hands under your lower back for support. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the ground while keeping your lower back pressed against your hands. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch legs. Perform 10 reps on each side.

The McGill curl-up is specifically designed to enhance abdominal endurance, contributing to improved spinal stability.

gentle exercise can be beneficial for low back pain

Some Key Tips for Managing Low Back Pain

  1. Consistency is Key: Perform these exercises regularly to experience lasting relief. Aim for at least three sessions per week.

  2. Listen to Your Body: Start with gentle movements and gradually increase intensity. If you feel any pain, stop immediately and consult with a healthcare professional.

  3. Maintain Good Posture: Whether sitting or standing, practice good posture to alleviate stress on your lower back.

  4. Stay Active: Incorporate low-impact activities like walking or swimming into your routine to support overall spinal health.

  5. Invest in Ergonomics: Ensure your workspace and daily activities are ergonomically friendly to reduce strain on your lower back.

taking some time to stay active can help prevent back pain


Incorporating these life-changing exercises for back pain prevention into your routine can be a game-changer in the battle against lower back pain. Backed by research and my extensive experience as a physical therapist, these exercises focus on strengthening, flexibility, and overall spinal health.

Remember, consistency is key, and always consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise regimen. Reclaim your life from the grips of low back pain and embark on a journey toward a healthier, pain-free spine.


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