Health Wellness

8 Physical therapy exercises that can help strengthen weak muscles and prevent low back pain

If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back, you might think that staying put can help minimize the pain. However, if you truly want to get relief from low back pain, the actual solution is to move. (h/t to

Physical therapy exercises for back pain

These eight simple and easy exercises and stretches are designed to relieve tension in tight muscles, which often causes pain in the lower back. They also help strengthen weak muscles to restore balance in the body.

1. Standing ham stretch – 3 reps per side

Back stiffness is often caused by tight hamstrings. This exercise will help stretch the entire length of your back to relieve tightness. If you have trouble balancing, you can hold onto a wall.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Flex your right foot and place it 6 inches in front of your left foot.
  3. Bend your left knee, then use your left arm to reach down and lift your right toes toward you. Keep your right knee straight and your hips square.
  4. Hold the stretch for 3 breaths, then switch sides.
  5. Repeat for 3 reps per side.

2. Rag doll forward fold – 5 breaths

Gravity will help you on this one. Loosen up your spine with this easy inversion.

  1. Stand with your feet apart, wider than hip-width.
  2. Fold forward, slightly bending in your knees. Keeping this position, cross your arms and grab onto your opposite elbows.
  3. Allow your head to hang freely. Stay in this position for 5 deep breaths.

3. Puppy pose – 3 reps

This position will help stretch the entire length of your back.

  1. Start in an all-fours position.
  2. Walk your hands forward as far as you can while keeping your hips over your knees.
  3. Rest your head on the ground and stretch your arms forward.
  4. Take 5 full breaths, then rest for 10–15 seconds.
  5. Repeat the position 3 times.

4. Bird dog extensions – 3 reps per side

This gentle stretch will help strengthen your lower back. Focus on keeping balance and stability while moving steadily and flexing your back muscles.

  1. Start on all-fours.
  2. Lift your right arm in front of you, and at the same time, lift your left leg behind you.
  3. Hold the position for a full exhale, then inhale as you lower.
  4. Switch sides; lift your left arm in front of you and lift your right leg behind you.
  5. Continue alternating, 3 times per side.

5. Dead bug – 3 reps per side

This position strengthens the core, which helps heal and prevent back pain. The key to its effectiveness is to perform it properly. Make sure to engage your abs and focus on stabilizing yourself while moving your limbs.

  1. Lie on your back and lift your knees to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lift your arms straight up, fingertips pointing to the ceiling.
  3. Lower your left leg down toward the ground, at the same time, lower your right arm behind you.
  4. Alternate sides, exhaling with each lift.
  5. Repeat 3 times per side.

6. Lying figure 4 – 3 reps per side

This position stretches out your glutes, relieving lower back pain. It’s a great workout after a long day of standing or sitting in front of your computer.

  1. Lie on your back and lift your knees up above your hips.
  2. Cross your right ankle over your left knee to create a number 4 shape.
  3. Loop your hands around your left thigh, and slowly pull in toward your chest.
  4. Once you feel a stretch, stop and hold for 3 deep breaths.
  5. Switch sides. Alternate back and forth, 3 times per side. Try to hold the stretch a bit longer each rep.

7. Lying hip twist rotations – 3 reps per side

This move simultaneously massages the hip, opens the chest and gently twists the spine. It’s a good exercise to stretch and strengthen your entire trunk.

  1. Lie on your back and lift your knees up to 90 degrees.
  2. Gently place your fingertips behind your head and stretch your elbows to the sides to widen your chest.
  3. Twist your hips to lower your knees far over to your right side while keeping your elbows and shoulders on the ground.
  4. Engage your core to lift your knees back up to the middle.
  5. Twist your hips the opposite direction and lower your knees to the left to stretch the other side.
  6. Continue to alternate between right and left, 3 reps per side.

Kneeling T-spine rotation – 3 reps per side

The T-spine rotation helps increase spine mobility and improves posture. Maintain stability in your hips during these rotations. This motion is intended for the middle spine, so if you feel the rotation in your lower back, you can sit back onto your heels to keep your hips stable.

  1. Start on all-fours.
  2. Place your right fingertips behind your head.
  3. With an inhale, lift your elbow up to the ceiling and rotate your core while keeping hips and legs stable.
  4. On the exhale, rotate the opposite direction and reach your elbow to the hand on the ground.
  5. Complete 2 more reps on the right, then switch and do the same on the left.

Each of these exercises can help strengthen and stretch your back to relieve pain. If you feel pain during any of these exercises, do not continue and consult your natural health practitioner to help you determine the right exercises for your back pain.

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