Lower back exercises

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 to the site, in this instance of exercises for your lower back pain.

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 or facet that is entrapping a nerve root.

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

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 10th January, 2024.

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 and I am not exaggerating. It 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 are a lot more focused in applying their minds, start lateral thinking and generally begin to see the bigger picture.

Then when pins and needles 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; the surgeon awaits.

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 every morning without fail.

Please be sensible and talk to your chiropractor and ask whether these lower back exercises are pertinent to your case; and request 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 they should not provoke pain. Reach the threshold but do not enter 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 small joints at the back of the spine; 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 joints which become locked and stay that way for long periods, are deprived of their normal nutrition. Immobilization arthritis sets in, damaging the hyaline cartilage.

That causes a far more serious condition known as lumbar facet arthropathy; what develops if you ignore the pain.

And then the lumbar facets are also 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 and floss your teeth. Here's a degenerative lumbar disc disease casefile that will explain this further; they take only two minutes, but must be done daily before arising from your bed.

Lumbar extension then provokes the pain but flexion relieves it.

Leg pain

Leg pain often emanates from the lower back or sacroiliac joints; and from the hip too. Far better to have that locked facet adjusted by your chiropractor, and then keep it in motion with these lower back exercises done faithfully every morning; preferably before it starts radiating down the limb.

Better still do them several times a day.

Exercises for sacroiliac joint pain

Those 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 diagnostically; is this a lumbar condition, or a SI 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 exercises above; cover both bases.

This research from the Valens clinic in Switzerland concerning function-centred training versus drugs makes interesting reading in this regard; get moving.

PELVIC TILT with a difference

Anyone suffering from chronic lower back pain must give attention to the core. 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 arising.


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 monitoring 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 bicycle.

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 never my chiropractic lower back exercises; or my Bible reading. They are both fundamentals of well-being in my book.

Yup I'm a fundamentalist 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 Iliopsoas 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 program takes less than two minutes; first thing in the morning before arising on your bed, you can tick off one important chore for the day.

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 often never get done.

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

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

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

You're not just a lower back, remember. Your shoulder, whole cardiovascular system and feet 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 may 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 many women for more than forty years that, if you start exercising your spine from early on, read week-one, you will have a much easier time; and a less agonising labour. You are also more likely to be able to 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 too. They take only one minute, after all; sixty seconds. Can you make that, two or three times daily to save yourself a mountain of spinal 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 and even the spinal canal.

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

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, are prepared to stop and have an excellent chiropractor then manipulation may succeed with your Grade V.

I myself once escaped the surgeon's knife with excellent chiropractic care; 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 them off the web if you have an extruded disc. Talk to your chiropractor for the right ones pertaining to your condition.

  • Maigne's syndrome exercises will always help an upper lumbar condition although the nerve affected is the superior cluneal and not the femoral.


Walking complements these lower back movements, improving not only the spine and pelvis but also there is a strong association between Alzheimer's disease and exercise.


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

- Charles Kingsley

Type "orange juice facts" into the Site Search button in the main menu above; vitamin C is absolutely essential for healing of all connective tissue and thus the disc too.

  1. Body mass index and its association with the lumbar disc herniation and sciatica

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