Perform the following exercises at least three times a week:
Partial Sit-ups. Partial sit-ups or crunches strengthen the abdominal muscles.
- Keep your knees bent and the lower back flat on the floor while raising the shoulders up 3 - 6 inches.
- Exhale on the way up, and inhale on the way down.
- Perform this exercise slowly 8 - 10 times with the arms across your chest.
Pelvic Tilt. The pelvic tilt alleviates tight or fatigued lower back muscles.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Tighten your buttocks and abdomen so that they tip up slightly.
- Press your lower back to the floor, hold for one second, and then relax.
- Be sure to breathe evenly.
Over time increase this exercise until it is held for 5 seconds. Then, extend your legs a little more so that your feet are further away from your body and try it again.
Stretching Lower-Back Muscles. The following are three exercises for stretching the lower back:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and legs together. Keeping arms at the sides, slowly roll your knees over to one side until totally relaxed. Hold this position for about 20 seconds (while breathing evenly) and then repeat on the other side.
- Lying on your back, hold one knee and pull it gently toward your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with your other knee.
- While supported on your hands and knees, lift and straighten your right hand and left leg at the same time. Hold for 3 seconds while tightening your abdominal muscles. Your back should be straight. Alternate with your other arm and leg and repeat on each side 8 - 20 times.
Note: No one with low back pain should perform exercises that require bending over right after getting up in the morning. At that time, the disks are more fluid-filled and more vulnerable to pressure from this movement.
Review Date: 04/07/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.