5 physical therapy exercises for lower back pain

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5 Physical Therapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain | Excel R&S

We’ve all winced from an ache in our lower back. And while some lower back pain goes away quickly, there are other times when it can linger and interfere with your ability to complete tasks such as enjoying a walk in the park or bending down to pick up clutter in your house. 

Lower back pain isn’t uncommon by any means, affecting millions of people around the world. In fact, studies from 2017 show that more than 570 million people in the global population experience pain in their lower back. The good news is that if you’re one of those people, there are physical therapy exercises that can help, and we’re here to teach you a few.

Read on to learn the basics of lower back pain, the benefits of physical therapy exercises and several exercises that a physical therapist may recommend.

The basics of lower back pain

The lower back is known as the lumbar region. Many people refer to pain in the lumbar region in a very general manner, but did you know there’s an exact definition of lower back pain, or LBP, to ensure that you’re pinpointing the right source of your pain? The Global Burden of Disease defines LBP as pain located from the twelfth ribs down to the lower gluteal folds that lasts for at least one or more days. 

Lower back pain can radiate down to your hips and legs, and it may be coupled with other symptoms that interfere with your mobility, including:

  • Leg numbness.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Decreased mobility.
  • Neck stiffness.

Common causes of lower back pain include:

  • Muscle strain.
  • Sciatica.
  • Herniated disc.
  • Compression fracture.
  • Spinal stenosis.

Benefits of physical therapy exercises for lower back pain

Physical therapy is one of the most effective options for treating lower back pain. A physical therapist will often recommend a treatment plan that combines modalities and manual therapy with active exercises.

There are many benefits that you can gain from performing physical therapy exercises to alleviate lower back pain, including:

  • Increasing strength. 
  • Improving flexibility.
  • Restoring mobility.
  • Reducing the risk of injury.
  • Decreasing reliance on medication.
  • Reducing the need for surgery.

5 lower back pain exercises used by physical therapists

Your physical therapist may recommend exercises to alleviate your lower back pain, and they will determine which ones will be the most effective based on the cause of your pain and your physical abilities.

Five physical therapy exercises for lower back pain are listed below. Your physical therapist will instruct you on how many times you’ll need to repeat each exercise.


  • Pelvic tilt — Lie on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are planted on the floor. Pull your lower back and navel down toward the floor by tightening your lower abdominal muscles, but be sure that you don’t use your leg muscles or buttocks. Hold for 10 seconds before releasing your muscles. Repeat as instructed by your physical therapist. 
  • Prone leg lift — Lie down facing the floor with your elbows placed shoulder width apart and your hands close together in the middle. Lay your legs down behind you while keeping your chest lifted off the floor so that you’re in a slight arch position. Keep your legs together and raise your feet toward your buttocks while your knees are on the floor. Hold the pose before bringing your legs back down. Repeat as instructed by your physical therapist. 
  • Bridge — Lie on your back and bend your knees while keeping your arms rested at your side. Raise your hips off the floor so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your knees. Hold the pose before bringing your hips back down to rest. Repeat as instructed by your physical therapist. 
  • Bird dog — Get onto all fours and lift up one leg to stretch it behind you while raising the opposite arm up and lifting it forward. Hold the stretch before returning your limbs to their original position to rest. Repeat on both sides and as many times as instructed by your physical therapist. 
  • Side twist — Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and your arms stretched out to the sides. Keep your knees pressed together as you lift your feet off the floor and twist your knees in one direction while moving your upper body to the opposite side. Repeat the motion on the other side as many times as instructed by your physical therapist.

Excel Rehab & Sports can show you physical therapy exercises for lower back pain

Your lower back pain can interfere with your quality of life and prevent you from carrying out your daily responsibilities, but there are exercises that can help alleviate the ache. It’s not always easy to know the safest and most effective ways to do an exercise when you’re attempting to do them on your own, and that’s where we come in. 

At Excel Rehab & Sports, our physical therapists can work with you to create a therapy and exercise plan to treat your lower back pain and get you started on the path to relief.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.