A graph displaying the increase in prevalence of back pain in people as they get older with the peak prevalence occurring between 55 and 64

My Top 5 Exercises for Low Back Pain

Exercises for low back pain is often one of the last things my clients want to do. But guess what, it helps you get better faster. Maintaining activity has been shown to help improve recovery rates. Do not feel you have to push too hard, a little bit of soreness can be ok, but if it is too painful its ok to take a step back. Check out my top 5 exercises for acute low back pain below!

1 – Bridges

A great hip extension strengthening exercise with some simple regressions and progressions. Working the hip extensors can help reduce tension from the hip flexors. It can also be a great way to introduce some lumbopelvic (pelvis) stability/control work. Utilisation of the right muscles and correct positioning can assist in reducing tension through the lower back and optimising gluteal muscle function.

Simple progressions can include offsetting foot position to increase load on one side, therabands around the knees to increase gluteal muscle activation, single leg bridges, marching bridges, among other variations. If you need to regress, simply bring the heels closer to the body.

2 – Knee Rocks

A great mobility exercise for the back. Gently rocking the knees from side to side keeps the back muscles and joints moving and free. The key here is to stay nice and relaxed and let the legs rock back and forth. The hips can lift from the ground but keep the shoulders down.

Simple progressions can include lifting the knees up to the chest and rocking side to side. This could easily be combined with a knees to chest stretch which is one a lot of my clients tend to tolerate well.

3 – Squats

A fantastic all-round exercise for the lower back and legs. They even get bonus points for being incredibly functional as well. Progressions can range from doing a sit to stand from a higher chair and lowering the height. Then you should look to progress towards a regular squat without any support. As with the bridge, progressions leading towards an offset sit to stand where one foot is in front of the other can be another simple and effective progression to help build strength.

4 – Reverse Lunges

These are great for keeping mobility through the front of the hips as well as keeping the quadriceps and glutes working. They can be more comfortable to perform than the regular forwards lunge as well. Not everyone is going to be able to do these in the early stages, but if you stay mobile and keep active, most clients will be able to perform them after a few days.

5 – Planks

A great all round core exercise. Depending on how irritable your back pain is this may potentially be a little too tough to start in the early stages but look to progress to it soon! The easiest position to start is a simple front plank on your knees to build some endurance. You can then progress to doing it on your toes. From there the world is your oyster, you can progress the front plank further by lifting limbs off the ground to increase the demand on the core, squeeze your glutes, move your elbows further in front of your body. Or you can progress to a side plank, a great exercise to increase glute strength and endurance.

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