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  • Writer's pictureBilly Gilhooley

Low Back Pain Exercises: Physiotherapy Guide

Anatomy of the Lumbar Spine

The lumbar spine, also known as the lower back, is a complex structure that is made up of several components. It consists of five vertebrae, which are bones that are stacked on top of each other.

These vertebrae are separated by intervertebral disc, which are made up of a tough, outer layer called the annulus fibrosis and a soft, gel-like centre called the nucleus pulposus. The lumbar spine is also supported by muscle, ligaments, and tendons.

These structures work together to allow the lumbar spine to move and support the weight of the upper body.

The lumbar region is an important part of the body's musculoskeletal system and is responsible for supporting the body and allowing us to move and perform various activities.

Chronic Low Back Pain

Chronic low back pain is defined as low back pain that persists for more than three months. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle strain, spinal degeneration, arthritis, and other medical conditions.

Acute low back pain is managed differently. Chronic lower back pain can be difficult to manage and may significantly impact an individual's quality of life.

Many back pain patients experiencing pain and other symptoms have reported a positive response to exercise. Exercise can help to improve overall physical fitness, decrease muscle tension and pain, and improve flexibility and mobility.

A physiotherapy exercise program that is tailored to the individual patients needs and goals can be an effective treatment for symptoms of chronic back pain. In some cases, a combination of exercise and other treatments such as medication and manual therapy may be required to manage chronic pain.

Strengthening exercises for lower back pain relief

A physiotherapy exercise regimen that includes both aerobic exercise and mobility exercises can be effective in decreasing low back pain symptoms.

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, is any activity that increases the heart rate and breathing rate for an extended period of time. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming. Regular aerobic exercise can help to improve overall physical fitness, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve circulation and blood flow to the muscles. All of these factors can contribute to decreased low back pain.

Mobility exercises, also known as flexibility or stretch exercises, are designed to improve the range of motion and flexibility of the muscles and joints. These exercises can help to reduce muscle tightness and tension, which can lead to decreased low back pain. Examples of mobility exercise include stretches for the lower back, hips, and legs.

It is important for patients to consult with a physiotherapist or professional medical advice before starting any new exercise program to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs. A physiotherapist can help to design a customised exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Abdominal Muscles

Strengthening the abdominal muscles, otherwise known as core muscles, is a key aspect to relieving low back pain. Our core strength muscles play a key role in supporting the lumbar spine and maintaining proper posture, and strong abdominal muscles can help to reduce strain on the lower back.

Additionally, core strength can improve overall core stability and balance, which can also help to reduce the risk of falls and injuries that could potentially lead to low back pain. Adding strength to your stomach muscles is a great way to add stability to your torso.

Some examples of exercises that can be used to strengthen the core muscle include planks, sit-ups, and bicycle crunches.

It is important to pay attention to proper form to avoid injury and ensure that the exercises are effective.

Leg Muscles

Leg strengthening exercises are an important part of a physiotherapy routine for low back pain relief. Strong legs can help to support the lower back and reduce strain on the spine, leading to less pain and discomfort.

Additionally, strong buttock muscles and leg muscles can improve overall mobility and balance, which can also help to reduce the risk of falls and injuries that could potentially lead to low back pain with or without leg pain.

Some examples of leg strengthening exercises that can be incorporated into a physiotherapy routine include squats, lunges, and leg presses. Lunges involve dropping down onto one leg and pressing upward. This is an excellent choice for stronger legs that you can do from home.

It is important to start with a moderate number of repetitions and gradually increase as your legs become stronger.

Physio exercises you can do from home to relieve lower back pain

A physical therapy systematic review in sports medicine found in most cases five key exercises help relieve lower back pain symptoms. Hamstring stretch, child's pose, pelvic tilts, downward dog and bird dog are all exercises that you can do from home that can help to relieve lower back pain.

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring stretches involve stretching the muscle at the back of the thighs. Tight hamstrings can cause strain on the lower back and contribute to lower back pain. Stretching the hamstrings can help to alleviate this strain and reduce lower back pain.

Child's Pose

Child's pose is a yoga pose that involves stretching the muscle of the back and buttocks. It can help to reduce tension in these muscle, which can contribute to lower back pain. When performing child's pose, the child's pose start on their hands and knees and then lowers their hips back towards their heels while you stretch their arms in front of them. This position can help to stretch and relax the muscle of the back and buttocks, which can help to reduce lower back pain.

In addition to stretch the muscle of the back, knees and buttocks, child's pose can also help to improve flexibility and mobility in the lumbar area. The lumbar is the lower part of the spine and is responsible for supporting the weight of the upper body. Improved flexibility and mobility in this area can help to reduce lower back pain and improve overall function.

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilt involve tilting the pelvis back and forth to stretch and strengthen the muscle of the lower back. The starting position is laying flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The pelvic tilt exercise can help to improve flexibility and mobility in the lumbar region and reduce lower back pain.

Bird dog

Birddog is an exercise that involves balancing on all fours and extending one arm and opposite leg. This exercise can help to strengthen the core muscle, which can help to support the lower back and reduce lower back pain.

Our Physiotherapy Assessment for your lower back pain

A physiotherapy assessment of the lower back involves a thorough evaluation of the individual's symptoms, physical condition, medical history, and contributing factors related to their lower back pain. The assessment typically includes a variety of techniques and tests, such as observation, palpation, range of motion testing, and muscle strength testing.

The information gathered during the assessment helps the physiotherapist to identify the underlying cause of the individual's lower back pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan. For example, if the assessment reveals that the individual has weak abdominal muscle/s or tight hamstrings, the physical therapist may recommend exercises to strengthen these muscle/s and improve flexibility.

The assessment may also identify any underlying condition that may be contributing to the individual's lower back pain, such as arthritis or a herniated disc. In these cases, the physical therapist may work with the individual's healthcare team to develop a comprehensive management plan specifically designed to addresses both the physical and medical aspects of their condition.

Overall, a physio assessment of the lower back is an essential first step in helping our therapist accurately diagnose and effectively treat lower back pain.

Correct Treatment for low back pain

Physical therapy treatment for low back pain typically involves a combination of exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques designed to reduce pain, improve mobility and flexibility, and strengthen the muscle of the back and core.


Exercises may include stretches, strengthening, and aerobic activities, such as walking or swimming, which can help to improve flexibility, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. These exercises may be performed in a physical therapy clinic, at home, or at a gym, depending on the individual's needs and preferences.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy techniques, such as massage, mobilisation, and manipulation, may also be used to help reduce pain and improve mobility in the lower back. These techniques involve the physical therapist using their hands to apply pressure or manipulate the tissues and joints of the back to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

Improving circulation

In addition to exercises and manual therapy, physical therapy treatment for low back pain may also include modalities such as heat or cold therapy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Increase movement

Movement is an important aspect of low back pain treatment, as it helps to reduce stiffness, improve flexibility, and strengthen the muscles of the back and core. Lack of movement or prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to muscle weakness and stiffness, which can contribute to low back pain and discomfort.

While it is important to rest and avoid activities that may exacerbate low back pain, it is also important to incorporate movement into your daily routine. Gentle stretches, light aerobic exercise, and other low-impact movement can help to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and improve overall physical and mental well-being.

Come in to to see us today

If you are experiencing low back pain, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, to determine the appropriate exercises and movements for your specific condition. They can help you develop a safe and effective exercise program to help manage your low back pain and improve your overall physical health.

Book your physiotherapy session online today.

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