Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Try these lower back exercises for your pain and feel the difference in your everyday life!
Whether it came from a sports injury or as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, almost everybody reading this will have experienced lower back pain at some point in their lifetime.
I get it.
It sucks to have wake up in the morning and feel a sharp pain the second you try to get out of bed.
It sucks to have your ability to perform everyday tasks impaired due to back pain.
However luckily there are lower back exercises and stretches that we can do to not only relieve our back pain over time, but also strengthen the muscles in our lower back area and reduce the chances of us suffering through back pain again.
And even better, some of these exercises can easily be incorporated into your strength training program at the gym (don't worry, we'll help you out with this), and the others can be done in just minutes from the comfort of your own home!
Let's go ahead.
The 13 Best Lower Back Exercises for Pain
Lower back hyperextensions
Knee to chest stretch
Lying torso rotation
Seated spinal twist
But First... Some Quick Tips With Your Lower Back Exercises
Before I begin and get into the list of lower back exercises, I need to stress something pretty important.
Always, always be careful with your lower back exercises.
It's always a good idea to be safe when you're doing physical activity, but it's especially important when you're working with your back.
In extreme cases (although they are rare), one bad injury due to carelessness could set you back for several weeks, months or even for the rest of your life.
However this is not something that should sotp you from performing these exercises.
Anything can be dangerous if done incorrectly, and it's up to you to take the correct measures and procedure to get things done right.
Personally, I was suffering from some back pain for a while from work as I have a job that requires quite a bit of heavy lifting.
I had cut deadlifting from my workout program for a couple of weeks due to massive changes in my schedule, and I decided that I would start doing them and taking them seriously again.
After just a couple of weeks, my back pain had almost completely disappeared.
Lower back exercises really do help with fixing your pain. You jsut have to be careful.
Just from this list, the exercises that you need to be especially careful on would be the deadlifts, the hyperextensions, rotational exercises, and foam rolling as well.
Really, the best thing for you to do would actually be to consult a doctor if you have any serious injuries or concerns before starting a new fitness program or trying out some new exercises.
Always take things slow from the start and stop immediately if you feel any sharp pain. Then go and seek professional medical advice.
If you're planning on including some of the strength training exercises into your program (which you should if it's safe for you to do so), you're going to want to have a read of some of these following articles.
And if you're planning on starting a fitness journey now or would like to see some significant changes in both your body and lifestyle, but aren't sure where to start, you've got nothing to worry about!
We have resources here to help you out with that too.
You can click here to check out our premade workout programs that cater to a wide range of fitness goals, otherwise you can check out the rest of our blog here at Gympulsive and keep on learning more about your own fitness and training!
Now with that all out of the way, let's get into the exercises!
Deadlifts are a great exercise to build both strength and muscle mass in the entire posterior chain (back side of the body).
And contrary to what most people believe, the deadlift is not an inherently 'bad' exercise for you to be doing.
In fact, it's extremely beneficial and good for your back if you do it correctly.
You can learn more about deadlifts by clicking here.
Like I said earlier, incorporating deadlifts back into my own workout routines was one of the key reasons I was able to cure my back pain.
This exercise is great for your lower back and is probably your best choice for building strength and muscle mass to prevent future injuries/pain.
Here's how to do it:
Start with the bar on the ground.
Pull the bar close to your center of mass and have it touching your shins.
Bend the knees slightly and hinge down towards the bar by pushing your hips backwards.
Go down until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and can't go further.
Bend your knees to get the rest of the way down until you can grab onto the bar.
Have your arms straight down, directly underneath your shoulders.
Grip the barbell with a double overhand grip to start with.
Keep a neutral spine throughout the range of motion.
Brace your core by breathing in and holding your breath.
Pull the bar up by driving your feet into the ground and hanging the bar off of your arms.
Simultaneously push your hips forwards once the bar passes your knees as you continue to straighten your legs.
Pause at the top in a standing position, holding the barbell.
Lower the bar back down (guide it with your hands, but you don't have to control it).
Check out the video below by CrossFit® for a demonstration of this exercise!
Bent Over Barbell Rows
The bent over barbell row is another great strength training exercise that's going to work parts of the back, including the spinal erectors and lower back muscles.
Since you're constantly maintaining a forward lean whilst carrying the weight of the barbell, you're going to work the lower back muscles through a long isometric extension contraction, and build lots of strength doing so.
This was also one of the exercises that I incorporated back into my routine to help fix my back pain, and I can definitely say, it played a big part in fixing my issue.
Here's how you should perform your bent over rows:
Take an approximately shoulder width and overhand grip.
Keeping your spine neutral, deadlift the weight up and stay in the lockout position.
Bend the knees slightly and push your hips back until your hamstrings feel a stretch.
Keep the spine neutral and allow the weight to drop down.
Drive the weight up into your sternum area, keeping your elbows flared at a 45 degree angle.
Squeeze the shoulder blades hard for a second.
Lower the weight with control.
Watch the video below by Nike for a demonstration of this!
Lower Back Hyperextensions
These are a great strength training exercise for you to do if you're wanting to really work the muscles of the lower back through a long range of motion and really shift the majority of the load onto them.
On top of the spinal erectors, this exercise also works the glutes, hips and hamstrings.
Many people actually use it as an alternative to the barbell deadlift if they don't have access to the right equipment, or they just can't perform the deadlift for one reason or another.
However again, this is an exercise that's pretty tough to master, and we don't want you jumping straight into it with too much weight, or trying to go through too long of a range of motion.
When done correctly, this is a safe and extremely effective lower back exercise to cure your pain.
Here's how to do it:
(You're going to need a hyperextension bench)
Lie facing down on the hyperextension bench with your legs and feet locked into the braces.
Cross your arms at your chest.
Ensure that your waist is clear of the bench, so that you can bend at the hips freely.
Slowly lower your upper body by bending down at the hips until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings and your lower back.
Ideally your upper body should be somewhat close to vertical, but only go as far as you feel comfortable going.
Raise your upper body back up by straightening your spine (with control) and exhale on the way up.
Only go up until your spine is straight, and not any further.
You can watch the video we've included below by Livestrong for a demonstration!
Knee to Chest Stretch
This is the first stretching and mobility exercise of the list.
Personally, this is one of my favorite lower back stretches, because it's so quick to do and can be done literally anywhere.
You'll be able to enjoy a great stretch on both your lower back muscles and your glutes.
Here's how you can perform the stretch:
Lie flat on the ground facing upwards.
Bend one leg and gently pull it into your chest with your arms.
Pull your leg in as close to your chest as possible, but stop immediately if you feel any sharp pain.
Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
Return to the starting position (laying face up), and do the same for the other leg.
See the video by the Wellness Center below for a demonstration!
Lying Torso Rotation
Aside from the knee to chest stretch, this has to be my favorite lower back stretch to do after my workouts, and just whenever I'm feeling like it at home.
This one is also extremely quick to do it and REALLY good for clicking your back, if that's something you enjoy doing.
But again, you're going to want to be careful as incorrect execution of this exercise can cause injuries in the lower back.
Here's how you should be doing this exercise:
Lie flat on your back facing up, with your legs straight out in front of you.
Lift your right leg and bend it until your knee forms a 90 degree angle.
Using your left arm, grab the raised knee and gently pull it down to your left side, over your other leg.
Keep pulling it down as far as you can, as long as it still feels comfortable. Many people will be able to go until their knee is touching the ground on the opposite side.
You should hear and feel your back clicking a lot (unless you clicked our back prior to doing this).
Once you're done, return to the starting position.
Repeat for your left leg and use your right arm to assist with the movement.
Other options include doing both legs at the same time, and not using your arms at all (simply twisting your legs left and right).
Video by Kyle Oleson
Bridges are a great bodyweight exercise that you can do to strengthen the muscles of your glutes and hamstrings, whilst getting some assistance and a little bit of work done by the lower back muscles as well.
You can do these literally anywhere (even at home), and do them quickly as well.
Give these a try, and don't be afraid to use a single leg at a time or add some weight onto your hips if you find that simply using your bodyweight is too easy!
Here's how to do the bridge:
Lie flat on the ground facing up with your legs out in front of you.
Bring both legs up and closer towards you until your shins are roughly vertical.
Keeping your feet in place, thrust your hips forwards until your body forms a straight line going diagonally upwards.
Squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the movement and hold yourself in that position for a second or two.
Slowly lower yourself back down until you're back at the starting position.
Check out the video below by simonsayssquat to see what this looks like!
This is an extremely popular bodyweight core exercise that you'll see lots of high school athletes doing, and all over the internet in circuit workouts.
They're an extremely effective lower back exercise you can do when you're short on equipment, and are definitely a movement that you should try out!
I still remember the first time I did this exercise, during my first season of rowing for high school.
Apparently I looked like a dead fish (that came from my coach, in front of the whole team).
But anyways these are a great exercise to do. Trust me!
Lie on the floor facing downwards. Have your arms straight out in front of your and your legs straight behind you.
Keep your neck in a neutral position (don't look up), and lift both your arms and legs up into the air. You should feel your lower back muscles working to maintain this position.
If you can, try to get your belly button off the ground slightly as well.
Hold this position for 2-5 seconds (depending on how strong you are), and return to the starting position.
See the video by CrossFitTheRack for a demonstration!
The bird dog is a great bodyweight exercise that you can do to strengthen your core, and specifically the lower back muscles.
It requires no equipment, and can easily be integrated into almost any circuit workout or home workout.
To do the bird dog:
Go down on the ground on your hands and knees.
Hands should be shoulder width apart and your knees should be hip-width apart.
Brace your core and ensure your body is feeling tight.
Extend one arm out in front of your at shoulder level, and extend the opposite leg out behind you.
You should be able to form a straight line from your extended leg to your extended arm.
Try to ensure that your lower back remains straight. If it begins to sag, lower your extended leg slightly.
Hold this position for as long as you can (but leave a little bit in the tank).
Return to the starting position.
Check out the video below by The Active Life for a demonstration!
This is a funny looking stretch, but it's actually extremely good at stretching out your core body and making sure you're not feeling too tight all the time.
Again, this is a stretch that you can do virtually anywhere, and is quick and easy to incorporate into your routine.
Here's how to do it:
Start on your hands and knees, with a neutral spine.
Inhale and press your chest forwards, whilst allowing your belly to sink down towards the ground.
Lif toyur head and make sure your shoulders are relaxed.
Exhale and crunch your torso forwards, or allow it to round outwards, away from you.
Tuck your tailbone in.
Allow your neck to relax.
Return to the starting position.
Check out the video below by AtYourDoorPT Alex to see a demonstration!
This is a great stretch that's going to help you loosen up your ab muscles, and also help with the mobility of your lower back muscles, to prevent injuries or pain in the future.
This is a good stretch to do at the end of an ab workout, or a workout where your lower back muscles were heavily active (such as a leg day workout consisting of barbell back squats or deadlifts).
Here's how to do it:
Kneel down on the ground.
Put your hands down on the ground in front of you, at approximately where your hands would be if you were to do a push up.
Straighten your legs and allow your body to drop down towards the ground (but keep your hands in place).
Try to feel a good stretch in your abdominal muscles, and also feel your lower back gently working.
Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.
Check out the video below by Yoga Journal to see what this looks like!
Seated Spinal Twist
This is another variation to the lying torso rotation that can be an option for you to do if you prefer.
Sit on a seat.
Grab an object (could be your own leg) with your left arm, and grab the back of the chair with your right arm.
Gently twist your torso in a clockwise direction by pushing and pulling with your two arms.
Hold that position for a couple seconds, before returning back to the starting position.
Repeat to twist the other way.
Check out the video below by Cleveland Clinic to see what this looks like!
Foam rolling is a popular and effective solution for lower back pain.
It's not going to fix your pain completely on its own, but is definitely a good addition to your exercise program if you've got the time to commit to it.
Simply do 2-5 minutes of foam rolling after your workouts, focusing on applying relatively large (but done safely) amounts of pressure specifically onto your lower back regions.
Take your time with foam rolling, and don't be afraid to spend a little bit of time focusing on proper technique and ensuring that you're not going to accidentally hurt yourself!
Overall, your lingering lower back pain doesn't have to continue pestering you forever.
Seeking professional treatment or advice is always going to be the best move, but it's not always in reach to us for one reason or another.
However if you take your training seriously and really do your recovery right, you can certainly be enjoying a lower back pain-free lifestyle in just a matter of weeks!
Which exercises are your favorite?
Let me know in the comments down below!