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woman with back pain

3 Exercises For Low Back Pain

By Margaret Pittman

Therapydia DC


Research shows that low back pain affects approximately 80% of people throughout their lifetime. Low back pain is often caused by biological factors such as weakness or stiffness, psychological factors (eg. depression, anxiety, fear of movement, or pain catastrophizing), and social factors (eg. work environment or external stressors). Leg pain sometimes accompanies low back pain, arising from disorders of neural or musculoskeletal structures of the lumbar spine.

Low back pain is preventable in the form of health promotion as well as rehabilitative services to maximize quality of life. Physical therapy, among other clinical interventions, is a mainstay in the treatment and prevention of recurrent low back pain.

Here are a few exercises (focused on low back and gluteal muscle flexibility, endurance and strength) to consider trying when experiencing an acute episode or new onset of low back pain. If pain increases during or after doing these exercises, consult your physical therapist or physician for further examination and treatment. 

Exercise 1: Seated Low Back Stretch (flexibility)

While sitting in a chair, slowly bend forward and reach your hands toward the floor. Bend your trunk and head forward and down for a comfortable tolerable stretch for at least 30 seconds. To emphasize the stretch on the right side of the low back, reach your hands toward the outside of your left foot. To emphasize the stretch on the left side of the low back, reach your hands toward the outside of your right foot. This stretch can be repeated 1-2 times per position. 

Exercise 2: Prone Gluteal Squeezes (muscle endurance)

Begin by lying on your stomach. Tighten your buttock muscles and squeeze them together. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.

Isolate squeezing only the right gluteal muscle. Repeat with only the left gluteal muscle.

Complete 1 set together, 1 set only right, 1 set only left.                     

Exercise 3: Sidelying Clamshells  (muscle strength)     

While lying on your side with your knees bent, separate your legs by lifting up the top knee while keeping your feet together. Do not let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement. Repeat this movement 10-15 times then switch to the other side and repeat the exercise with the opposite leg.


Whether you are experiencing recurrent low back pain or having back pain for the first time, the experienced and knowledgeable physical therapists at Therapydia DC can provide assessment and same-day treatment! Don’t delay in getting on the path to recovery today by contacting our office to schedule an initial evaluation.



Jessica Jones

Physical Therapist

Jessica recently moved to Seattle from Boston, MA and is excited to join the Therapydia team. Her treatment experience includes orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics, and vestibular therapy. Jessica received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA in 2016. She has completed the Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and is in the process of completing a Comprehensive Vestibular Rehabilitation certification. Jessica believes in empowering and inspiring patients to take control of their health through education, movement, and exercise. She enjoys treating patients of all ages and levels while utilizing soft tissue techniques, neuromuscular re-education, balance training as well as therapeutic exercise. In her free time, Jessica enjoys yoga, dancing, kayaking, and hiking with her dog!


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