6 top physical therapy exercises for lower back pain

Lower back pain is a common concern as we age, either during or after activities. For many people, chronic lower or general back pain can inhibit how active they are. Back pain can be treatable through physical therapy because physical therapy  can relax tense back muscles and more. 

Knowing how to prevent back pain from starting and lessening it when it has already started can transform how you feel in your daily life. Working with a physical therapist can help you learn what exercises work the best for you. 

Why may back pain occur?

Your lower back acts as an anchor for the rest of your body. It stabilizes all other movement in the body. So if your abdominals or hips are weak, you may overcompensate by using your back muscles. Certain factors can also make you more susceptible to lower back pain, like whether you spend your day working from a chair or you lift heavy objects at work. In addition, as you age, your health and mobility start to degenerate, and then back pain can start. 

Strains and injuries can occur in your back because of bad form with lifting things or from sitting in a chair for hours. Exercises in physical therapy can help you with pain and build strength back into those hurting areas. These exercises can also help with mobility and getting back to feeling like your best self.

How can physical therapy help your back pain? 

With physical therapy, there are many treatment options, but certain options can be more beneficial for your situation and needs. A consultation with a physical therapist can help you determine what kind of therapy is the best for you based on how active you are, your age, your mobility levels, pain levels and more. Making a consultation can help you to also educate yourself on risky movements or activities for your back health. Your physical therapist can also give you at-home routines so that you can still work on relieving your back pain outside of the PT clinic.

6 exercises to help reduce your lower back pain

These exercises focus on relieving tension and discomfort in your lower back. Many of these exercises have assisted versions or can be intensified as you build up strength over time. The exercises are ones frequently used in at-home programs and are recommended by physical therapists to help ease lower back pain when it begins or to strengthen those areas.

  • Cow and cat pose

This gentle stretch involves getting on your hands and knees on the floor. To make sure that you don’t hurt your back, use a cushion or a mat under your hands and knees. Arch your back up and down by contracting and releasing your abdominals. This exercise is great for relieving tension in your lower back because you stretch your spine in both directions. It also is great because it can strengthen your core, which can ease stress in your back. This may be an exercise that you use in physical therapy, or it may be a part of a custom home exercise program created by your physical therapist.

  1. Child’s pose

Another yoga pose that can help your lower back pain is the child’s pose. It involves sitting with your feet tucked underneath you and stretching your arms in front of you as you put your head on the floor. This stretch is great at relieving tightness in your lower back as well as stretching your back muscles.

  1. Towel hamstring stretch

For this stretch, grab a towel or even an exercise band and put it across the bottom of your foot. With your back on the floor, lift your foot into the sky and straighten your leg. As you hold on to the towel, keep your leg tense and feel a slight stretch in your back. You can alternate between legs to feel stretching on a specific side. In the clinic, your physical therapist can help you with the exercise band if you need assistance.

  1. Cobra stretch

If you feel that the other exercises are not deeply stretching your back enough, your physical therapist may recommend you to try this exercise. Lying on your stomach with your legs flat, place both palms on the floor and lift your chin up. You may feel that your abdominals are stretching, but try to relax your stomach and arch your back to stretch it. 

  1. Seated lower back rotational stretch

This next exercise is easy to do at work where many people feel flare-ups. While you are seated, cross your right leg and use your arms to hold on to your right knee while you twist your torso to the right and left. Then alternate your legs and twist both sides. This is great if you sit for extended periods of time at work or at home and need an exercise you can do while seated.

  1. Shoulder blade press

This exercise is a great on-the-go stretch as you go through your day. You simply press your shoulder blades together either by just using your muscles or maybe holding on to something behind you, like a towel or band. You can then add on bending over to feel a stretch throughout your back.

Find even more help for your lower back pain at Lattimore PT

All of these exercises are great for at-home or on-the-go relief. They are also great movements used by Lattimore Physical Therapy’s physical therapists to stretch your back and help reduce your lower back pain. To learn more about physical therapy options we offer for lower back pain, check out our Patient Center that has information on injuries, conditions and treatments.

At Lattimore PT, we can help you relieve back pain and guide you through your health journey. Back pain should not be taking over your life. One of our expertly trained physical therapists can guide you through in-clinic exercises and treatments as well as give you an at-home exercise routine so that you don’t have to feel trapped by your pain.

Contact our team today to discover more about our lower back pain treatments or to schedule your first PT session.

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