Lower Back Exercises to Do at Home

By James Bolger
Lower back exercises can increase strength and flexibility.
Lower back exercises can increase strength and flexibility.

Like to spend money on golf clubs instead of health clubs? On greens fees instead of gym dues? You're not alone. If you have back pain, you're not alone, either. Exercise is often recommended as a treatment for back pain. Fortunately, there are a number of effective--and free--back exercises you can do at home.

Simple Stretches

The University of Maryland Department of Environmental Services recommends some simple exercises to help get your back in shape. Try these exercises two to three times a day.

Pelvic Tilt: Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly tighten your stomach and buttocks while pressing your lower back into the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Bent-Knee Sit-Ups: Lie down and bend your knees to a V position. Keep your feet flat and place your arms across your chest. Slowly raise your head and neck as far as comfortable. Don't stretch your neck. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 5 to 10 times. Leg Lift: Lie on the floor with one leg bent to a V and the other one straight. Slowly raise the straight leg as high as possible, but don't force it. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Repeat with your other leg.

Moving While Stationary

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends riding a stationary bike for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Sit comfortably on the bike, making sure you don't place more pressure (or bring more pain) to your back. This aerobic activity will help you keep good posture. It also relieves pressure on your back and strengthens stomach muscles to help them support the spine. If riding's not for you, walking can also help. Invest in a home treadmill for a similar benefit.

Home and a Weight

A review of existing research by the University of New Mexico emphasized the importance of building strong muscles in the back, stomach and legs. Stronger muscles help stabilize and support the spine. As the University of Indiana's Department of Kinesiology points out, there's a wide variety of equipment available to help you build muscle. Free weights, home gym systems, dumbbells, stretch bands and even your own body can be used in strength training. Whatever equipment you choose, use it to perform leg presses, leg curls, stomach crunches and pull-downs. Be sure you understand how to use the equipment safely and with correct form. You might want to invest in a session or two with a personal trainer to verify that your form and technique are correct.

Caution

Share your exercise plans with your doctor or health care provider before beginning. Stop exercising if pain or weakness seem to get worse.

About the Author

James Bolger has spent two decades writing on health, nutrition, golf, fitness, travel, insurance, and more. Bolger served as managing editor for "Maturity Matters," a newsletter on senior lifestyles, and "Your Health and Fitness," a consumer health magazine. He has also written on health and medical research for academic medical centers. Bolger earned his Bachelor of Arts in communications/English from DePaul University.

Photo Credits

  • Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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