Do you suffer from back pain? Does it keep you from doing or just enjoying doing some of the things you love? 

Well, hopefully I can help you with that!

Several months ago I shared 8 Exercises for Low Back Pain. Now, those are a fabulous start. Many of them are exercises that I prescribe almost daily for my physical therapy patients to perform as part of their home exercise program.

But, one thing is missing.

When I see a patient for low back pain, I typically have the opportunity to see them for several visits. I can reassess their progress and then adjust, add, or modify their home program depending on their current status.

Obviously, I don’t have that ability with you.

So, today, I’m going to share with you a bit of a progression that should also work wonders for your low back pain.

But wait before you start!

As always, you should seek professional medical help before beginning any exercise routine, especially if you’ve been experiencing symptoms for a while OR you have had a sudden onset of symptoms with no known cause.

Once you’re cleared, I would recommend starting with the first 8 Exercises for Low Back Pain for a couple of weeks and then progress on to these.

Remember, everyone is different.

The same thing that is causing someone else’s pain may not be what’s causing yours! 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing, but this should be a good start.

Keep in mind that the basic premise behind these programs is to create muscle balance and stability: stretch tight muscles, strengthen weak ones – especially our “foundational” core, low back, and hip muscles – and increase endurance.

Here we go…

Low Back Pain Progression #1

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Often times, tight hip flexors can create an anterior pelvic tilt and increased lumbar lordosis. HUH? You can develop a “sway” back and put more pressure on your low back that you should. Stretch them out!

low back pain hip flexor

Kneel with one knee on the ground and your other foot up in front of you on the floor – like you’re posing for one of those sports pictures from your childhood. Make sure you sit up nice and tall, keeping your back straight.

Here’s the most important part!

Whichever knee is on the ground, you MUST focus on tucking that hip under – don’t allow your butt to stick out on that side. If you don’t tuck that hip under, you will NOT be stretching the iliopsoas.

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times on each side.

Straight Leg Hip Abduction

low back pain slr and

This is a very basic building block exercise. Once this is stronger, you can move on to more functional strengthening exercises later. But, never neglect the basics.

Lie on your left side with your left knee bent and your right leg straight. You want your leg and your trunk in a straight line. Tighten the muscle on top of the thigh and pull your toes up toward your nose. Lift the right leg off the left ~6-10 inches and slowly return to the starting point.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Straight Leg Raise Flexion

low back pain slr flex

Lie on your back with your left knee bent and your right knee straight. Tighten your quad (the muscle on the front of your thigh) and pull your toes up toward your nose. Keeping your right leg completely straight, slowly lift it to the level of the other knee and then slowly lower it back down. Repeat.

Do 10 repetitions. Do 2-3 sets.

Single-Leg Bridging

low back pain bridging

This is a progression of the bridging performed on the first 8 Exercises.

Lie on your back with your right knee bent and foot on the table. Now hold your left leg straight as if you’re going to do the above straight leg raise activity. Hold your left leg off the ground. Now use your right leg to lift your hips off the ground/table/bed.

Maintain abdominal bracing/”tummy tuck” position to limit hip shifting laterally or rotating.

Control yourself back down.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 on each leg. 

Quadruped Leg Extensions

low back pain quadruped

Get on all fours on mostly stable surface. Hold your tummy tuck position. Now slowly extend your right leg behind you – being careful not to rotate your trunk or your hips. Slowly return to your starting point. Switch legs and repeat.

The cue I often give my patients is to pretend there’s a glass of water on the small of your back. Try really hard not to spill it!

Do 2-3 sets of 10 on each side. 

Planks on Knees

low back pain knee plank

This is the beginner version of planks. The more advanced version is on your toes instead of your knees. Either way – they’re fun for all!

Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent so your forearms are on the bed/floor. Prop yourself up on your forearms/elbows so your trunk is off the bed and only your elbows and knees are on the bed.

Hold 10-20 seconds. Do 5-10 times. 

Side note – often our goal is for our patients to be able to maintain that position for 3 minutes straight!


low back pain squats

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your weight on the “fat part” of your foot (almost the balls of your feet).

Now hinge from your hips so you are somewhat sitting back (aka – stick your butt out) and bend your knees to ~45 degrees or so.

You should be able to see your toes when you are at the bottom of your squat – DO NOT let your knees come toward each other or go past your toes.

Return to standing.

Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 

Now you’re ready!

Give them a try and see how it goes!

Let’s Get FIT Together!

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