Exercises for lower back pain

A while back I wrote about the anatomy of lower back pain, and how it is the number one reason people call in sick to work in the Western world. I discussed the principles of anatomy and how sitting at a desk all day or overtraining one muscle group (like everyone's beloved sick pack abs) causes an imbalance in the hips, thus in the lower back.

Today, I want to give you a sequence of exercises to do either as part of your regular workout or maybe before you go to bed. Doing these regularly (read: at least 5 times a week), will help to re-balance out any muscle and joint positions, so lower back pain is a thing of the past.

Why do you have to do them so often? It's that annoying saying: if you don't use it, you lose it! When it comes to our body, most of us don't move enough. We tend to sit at work, in the car, in front of the TV. Every time you sit for long periods of time (more than 1 hour at a time), you are counteracting the good you did with these exercises. Be realistic with yourself: the longer you sit, the more often you have to do this!

Now let's begin. It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, which means it can easily be part of your daily routine. Don’t rush through the exercises; instead work with complete muscle control.

1. Cat cow: 10x

  • Start on all fours with your knees directly underneath the hips and your hands underneath the shoulders. Spread your fingertips and grip the mat, so you feel strong throughout your whole upper body.

  • Inhale and let the belly hang down slightly - like a cow - while your gaze is going up.

  • Exhale and draw the belly button in and up towards the spine, rounding your back like a cat. You are now gazing towards your thighs.


Don't jerk into your lower back when doing this exercise, but keep the movement fluid.

Don't over extend your neck, let it move as part of your spine rather than jerking it back and forth.

2. Pelvic tilts: 10x

  • Lie on your back with your knees bend, feet hip width apart. Place your hands on your hip bones to feel the movement.

  • Inhale and arch your back slightly, tilting your hip bones forward. It's the same action as the cow move above.

  • Next, exhale and tilt your hip bones back, pulling the belly button in, and pushing your lower back into the floor.


Relax your shoulders in this pose, and only tilt from your hips and lower back.

3. Figure four stretch: hold 30 seconds each side

  • Lying on your back, cross your right heel over your left knee.

  • Reach through your legs and pull the left thigh into your chest.

  • Rest your head down and pull the legs closer to the chest.