Lower back exercises

The lumbar facet joint is a frequent cause of lower back pain.

Lower back exercises are for everyone suffering from chronic lower back and leg pain.

We are into a whole new phase at Chiropractic Help; adding videos, in this instance of exercises for your lower back pain, to the site.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 10th July, 2019.

We are into a whole new phase at Chiropractic Help; adding videos, in this instance of exercises for your lower back pain, to the site.

Lumbar exercises are a very necessary addition to our chiropractic help menu. Hardly a day passes in any DC's office when he or she is not faced with a hot disc.

A hot lumbar disk can be a very frightening experience. I know, I have treated thousands, and have the t-shirt myself. It took me ten minutes  once to pluck up the courage to lie down several years ago, and I am not exaggerating. That was even worse than getting up from the bed of woe.

It is when doctors themselves get sick that they really start to learn about a condition. Then they begin to apply their own minds, start lateral thinking and generally begin to see the bigger picture.

Then when pins and needles, or pain, start radiating down the leg, you know you are in trouble. If raising the big toe, or standing on your heel becomes difficult, then it is certainly serious.

Lower back and leg pain

Lumbar and leg pain episodes face all of us periodically. Lower back exercises done daily before rising from bed will reduce the frequency significantly; I do them myself.

Please be sensible and talk to your chiropractor, and ask whether these lower back exercises are pertinent to your case; and ask him or her to check that you are doing them correctly.

The wrong exercises, or done badly, can aggravate your condition. The rule is this; they may cause some discomfort, but that should not provoke pain. Reach the threshold, but do not exceed it.

Here are a few more suggestions; enjoy these lower back and leg pain exercises.

Lower back exercises

Lumbar facet syndrome

Lumbar facet syndrome is probably the most common condition treated at the chiropractic help clinic; these lower back exercises are very simple and take less than one minute every morning.

Please note, it is very important, that there is no perfect exercise routine for all conditions. The right way really is to see a professional, get a diagnosis and advice on which are pertinent to your problem. Have him or her teach you to do them correctly.

Having said that, I am pestered constantly at this site for lower back exercises. Do them at your own risk. They are very basic and not likely to hurt, but they certainly can, especially if you do them incorrectly.

Lower back pain often starts in the facets with what is known as a lumbar facet syndrome usually one of the more straight forward problems treated at the Chiropractic Coalface.

The downside is that facets that become locked, and stay that way for long periods, depriving them of their normal nutrition. Immobilisation arthritis sets in, damaging the hyaline cartilage and causing a far more serious condition known as lumbar facet arthropathy; what happens if you ignore the pain.

And then the lumbar facets are affected by other conditions in the back, such as old fractures.

If you have arthritis in your lower back, and most of us over 60 do, then just accept that no one is going to cure your condition and you simply must do lower back exercises every day, just as you brush your teeth. Here's a degenerative lumbar disc disease casefile that will explain this further; they only take two minutes, but must be done daily before arising from your bed. 

Leg pain

Leg pain often emanates from the lower back or sacroiliac joints; and from the hip too. Far better to have the locked facet adjusted by your chiropractor, and then keep it in motion with these daily lower back exercises. Preferably before it starts radiating down the leg.

Exercises for sacroiliac joint pain

Exercises for sacroiliac joint pain are not dissimilar to the basic lower back exercises; they are equally simple and also take less than one minute in their most common form; do them in bed every morning.

The sacroiliac joint fixates with many of the lumbar syndromes that cause lower back and leg pain. Often it is difficult; is this a lower back condition, or a sacroiliac subluxation? They go together much of the time.

The first exercise of the lumbar facet syndrome thus is designed to mobilise the sacroiliac joints simultaneously.

Do you have a sacroiliac joint problem? Do the lumbar facet joint exercises above. Cover both bases.

PELVIC TILT with a difference

Anyone suffering from chronic lower back pain must give attention to the core muscles. These lower back exercises incorporate all three parts of the pelvic corset of muscles:

  1. Abdominal flexors
  2. Small spinal extensors
  3. Deep pelvic muscles

Done lying on your bed, ten reps of this exercise will take less than one minute. I do them myself every morning BEFORE getting out of bed.

Kasch pulse recovery test

The Kasch pulse recovery test is a neat little procedure that you can do at home, checking your general level of fitness. Stepping up and down for a few minutes, and then monitor how quickly your heart rate returns to normal.

Personally I used to go back to Holland for a few months periodically, and was always surprised how much fitter I felt, riding twenty minutes each way to the clinic. Silly, I should have done the Kasch pulse test first, and seen what effect it had at the end of the locum.

But I know I felt stronger and fitter after only a month of 40 minutes a day on the cycle.

It is a useful test if you are planning to start any cardio-vascular exercises. Walking, swimming and cycling are the best, especially if you have any hip, knee, or foot issues; then move on to the skipping rope.

Except today when it has rained all morning, dampening any thought of going to church. Dordrecht has a marvellous Grote Kerk but not much fun in a downpour on a bicycle.

I may have missed church, but I never my chiropractic lower back exercises; or my Bible reading. They are both fundamentals of well-being in my book.

Jup, I'm a fundimentalist, and proud of it. Or least I was until I read about that Norwegian Anders Behring.

This one minute, core muscle exercise, also done in bed before arising, is a little more challenging. Using the Quadratus Lumborum muscles and the Ilio psoas simultaneously is more like what your back will be required to do when gardening or playing squash.

Bed exercises

Exercises done lying down do have their limitations, but they have one great advantage: they get done. Our whole bed exercise program takes less than two minutes and, done first thing in the morning, before arising, on your bed, they get done.

More interesting, and perhaps better exercises more related to real life certainly exist but, left to sometime later in the day when you have time, they just never get done.

All your good intentions, and then bang, another episode of acute lower back pain, perhaps this time with radiating pain down your leg. Then the fun begins. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, right?

Spend two minutes in the morning, two minutes last thing at night and you'll be astonished how much stronger your back will be within a month.

Of course that's absolutely minimum. Go for a walk, take the stairs rather than the lift or elevator, and twenty minutes, twice a week in the pool would do wonders more.

You're not just a lower back, remember. You shoulder, heart, whole cardiovascular system, lungs, foot, they all need exercise if you want to reach a happy, healthy eighty with all your marbles intact.

Pregnancy exercises

It is perhaps bizarre that the first symptom you have, that you are pregnant, is back pain. Pregnancy and lower back pain are of course almost synonymous, but it's my experience after dealing with pregnant women for more than thirty years that, if you start exercising your lower back from early in your pregnancy, read week one, you will have a much easier pregnancy, an easier labour, and take the heavy lifting of babyhood in your stride.

Do these lower back exercises faithfully, every morning before getting out of bed, last thing at night and, if you get the chance, during the day. They take only one minute, after all. One minute. Can you make one minute, twice a day, to do some lower back exercises and save yourself a mountain of back pain?

An extruded disc

Very occasionally a slipped disc may be so severe that the inner gel escapes beyond the confines of the surrounding fibres into the intervertebral foramen.

These are known as Grade V slipped disc symptoms; the pain in the leg is much worse than the back pain.

Usually an extruded, sometimes known as a sequestered disc, would be sent straight to the neurosurgeon. However, if you are determined not to go under the knife, as I was myself, are prepared to stop, have an excellent chiropractor then chiropratic manipulation may succeed with your Grade V. I myself have recently escaped the surgeon's knife: Femoral nerve damage.

In this instance I found I had to be very careful with all these lower back exercises for about three weeks. They sometimes increased the pain in the leg. In any case, you shouldn't be getting exercises of the web off the web if you have an extruded disc. Talk to your chiropractor for the right ones pertaining to your condition.


Walking complements the lower back exercises, improving not only the spine and pelvis, heart but also there's a strong association between Alzheimers and exercise.

“There are two freedoms; the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.” 

- Charles Kingsley


Orange juice facts - vitamin C is essential for healing of a disc.

» Lower back exercises

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

Are you looking for a different slant on your pain?

Do you want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.

Interesting letters from readers