9 Core Exercises for Lower Back Relief

exercises for lower back

9 Core Exercises for Lower Back Relief

Physical therapy can be a great tool for recovering from lower back pain. While you’ll need the help of an experienced physical therapist for some therapeutic processes, your PT will also assign you a variety of stretches and exercises you can do from home. In this list, we’ll cover a few examples of core exercises for lower back pain and other painful conditions.

What Are Core Exercises?

A core exercise is any exercise in which you move your trunk unsupported. Many types of bodyweight training are core exercises, and there are some core exercises that are more like stretches.

What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain is generally caused by the gradual deterioration of the muscles and tissues in your back. Specifically, wear and tear on the cartilage in your spinal column can lead to a variety of painful conditions. Back pain can also be caused by injuries, diseases, and genetic conditions.

Pain in your lower back is exacerbated by a lack of musculature in the trunk area. Your trunk, which consists of your chest, back, and shoulders, is the center of your body, and the muscles in your trunk keep your back straight and pain-free.

Doing low-impact core exercises every day can improve your overall back and abdominal strength and take some of that weight off your spine. Over time, this reduced strain can promote lasting healing effects.

9 Best Lower Back Pain Core Exercises

Here are some of the best exercises you can do if you want to take some of the strain off your aching back.

1. Lower back rotational stretches

This stretch helps limber up your spine:


  1. Lie flat on the floor, bend your knees, and put your feet flat on the ground
  2. Make sure your shoulders remain firmly planted on the floor as you turn both of your bent knees to one side
  3. Allow both knees to make contact with the floor on one side, and hold this position
  4. After around 10 seconds, slowly roll your knees back into an upright position with your feet flat on the floor
  5. Switch to the other side, and repeat the whole series two or three more times per day

2. Bridges

When you do a bridge, you bring your pelvis up and flex your back:


  1. Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
  2. Put your weight onto your feet, and keep your arms flat on the ground at your sides
  3. Raise your buttocks into the air gradually until your pelvis is at the same level as your knees from your perspective
  4. Squeeze your buttocks together, and push your shoulders into the floor
  5. Gradually lower your buttocks to the ground, and rest for a few times
  6. Increase the number of repetitions as you gain experience

3. Glute bridge leg progressions

This exercise is like a bridge but with an added kick:


  1. Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent and your feet pressing against the ground
  2. Lace your fingers around the back of your right thigh
  3. In a single movement, use your laced hands to bring your knee toward your chest while you flex your glutes and move your pelvis into a plank
  4. Hold this position for a moment, then lower yourself back down
  5. Repeat on the other side, and aim for two sets of 10 reps on each side

4. Pelvic tilts

This type of core stretch only moves your pelvis, but it works a lot of different muscles:


  1. Lie on the floor with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground
  2. Bring your pelvis up and arch your back to push your abdomen upward
  3. Make sure your buttocks and back stay on the floor, and hold the position for a few seconds
  4. Next, push your back the other way, and suck your abdomen toward the floor
  5. Repeat this pose up to 30 times per day depending on your comfort level

5. Superman pose

Channel your inner superhero and strike a flying/laying pose:


  1. Lie flat on your stomach on the floor
  2. Extend your arms forward, and point your toes
  3. Reach forward and back, and then release after a few seconds
  4. Allow your body to lie flat for a moment, and then repeat 10 times

6. Cat stretches

Roll your shoulders forward and get started. Meow!


  1. In a standing position, hunch your back forward and roll your shoulders
  2. Hold for five seconds, release, and repeat 10 times

7. Draw-in stretches

This laying stretch gently tightens your abdominal muscles:


  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat
  2. Without moving your pelvis, suck your stomach in, hold, and release

8. Dead bug stretches

While this stretch may not have the most glamorous name, it gets those core muscles pumping:


  1. Lie on your back, and raise your arms and legs toward the sky
  2. Bend your knees, and bring your right arm and leg toward your head
  3. Release, and repeat on the other side

9. Forearm plank

Get ready to hit the deck:


  1. Prop yourself up on your elbows on the floor

Gradually raise your buttocks, and hold this position while resting your weight on your toes and elbows

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