Top 5 Back Exercises

Top 5 Back Exercises

June 5, 2023

Back Exercises for Low Back Pain

“What can I do to relieve my back pain?” is a common question that I get each day in my clinic.  Back pain will affect almost every one of us at some time or another in our lives.  I know as I have suffered for several years from chronic back pain related to lifting and sports injuries when I was younger.   Back pain often arises from several causes.  Many of us sit too much in our daily and work lives.   This results in loss of flexibility in the spine and hips, weakness in the core muscles (gluteals, back, and abdominals) which in turn leads to instability and pain in the lower back.   So what can you do at home to help alleviate back pain?  I have compiled my top 5 back exercises for you listed below and included in the short video that is linked below.

1. Donkey Kicks

This is a great multifunctional movement and my number 1 back exercise because it accomplishes several objectives.  It strengthens the leg muscles (quadriceps), buttocks (gluteal muscles), and abdominals while stretching the muscles in from on the hips (hip flexors).  Make sure to avoid any pain, but fatigue is ok.  Do not arch the back during this exercise.  Start with 30-40 repetitions and work up to 100 repetitions on each side.

2. Pigeon Pose

At Flex Physical Therapy, we use many yoga poses integrated into the patient’s therapy program. This occupies the number 2 position as a very effective back exercise.  In many of my back pain patients, the loss or lack of flexibility in the hips is a primary cause of their pain.  Everything in the human body works together in a chain and when one part of that chain is too stiff it places increased stress on the other parts of the chain.  In the case of the hips, the loss of flexibility or motion means that the lower back must make up for that loss of motion and places more stress on the already vulnerable spine.  This may look like a difficult exercise, but looks can be deceiving.  As a former competitive powerlifter with very little flexibility, if I can do it then anyone can.  Start slow and work into the stretch.  Begin with 10 second hold times for 10 repetitions on each side once a day.  As you loosen up, you will be able to hold for a longer time.

3. Child’s Pose

This is another great back exercise taken from our yoga classes at Flex. This is good for the flexibility in the knees, hips, and lower back.  It stretches those tight back muscles and is a good position to practice your deep breathing/relaxation techniques.  Hold for 5 seconds and do 10 repetitions once a day.  You can increase the hold time and repetitions as you become more flexible.

4. Cobra Pose

This back exercise is number 4 on my list and should be started slowly. Improving the back extension (bending backward) is an important step in relieving back pain.   The Cobra Pose back exercise is also good for those who suffer from disc bulges/herniations as it can assist in reducing the bulging disc and lessen the compression of the spinal nerve.  Start slow with this one and work on increasing the height of the stretch until you can lock out your elbows.  Keep your hips relaxed and in contact with the floor.  Hold 1-2 seconds at the top and start with 10 repetitions once a day.  Once you have mastered this back exercise, you are ready for the final one.

5. Birddogs

This back exercise helps to develop core strength, balance and endurance which are all needed for a healthy back. Do not arch your back.  Make sure to keep your balance and control.  Start with small lifts of the hand and leg at first and build up over time.  Hold for 3 seconds and do 10 repetitions on each side once a day.  You can work up to 30 repetitions over time. 

There you have the Top 5 Back Exercises for back pain relief.  These should provide you with the tools you need to becoming pain free!  At any time, if you experience any increased pain or numbness/tingling in the legs/feet, contact one of our physical therapists at 1-800-930-8803 as we specialize in the treatment of all back pain conditions.  In addition to these highly effective back exercises, we offer many other treatments for back pain such as massage therapy830 Laser, and yoga classes. 

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