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Exercises to Beat Nagging Lower Back Pain

It sounds a difficult thing to do to keep moving when you are suffering from lower back pain, but it is recommended by medical and physiotherapist specialists. It is important to keep the spine moving and to work the back muscles, but it is as equally important that the exercises you choose do not exacerbate the pain and cause further inflammation. This means avoiding exercises that put excess strain on the lower back such as toe touches, sit ups, abdominal crunches, and leg lifts.  When you put a program of exercises for lower back pain together these are the sort of moves that are most beneficial. 

1. Swimming

Swimming is what is known as an aerobic exercise, also called cardiovascular exercise. They are so-called because this type of exercise relies on the aerobic energy-generating process. They can be low to high intensity, but it is important the choose the right sort when you are dealing with nagging lower back pain. Swimming is probably the best aerobic exercise for back pain. The pool water provides support for your spine while the action of swimming (particularly with breaststroke) works your leg, arm and back muscles. If your front crawl/backstroke action involves twisting your lower back, it is best to stick to breaststroke to avoid extra pressure on your spine and lower back muscles.

2. Partial Crunches

It was mentioned above that abdominal crunches are best avoided when you have back pain, however, partial crunches can prove to be an effective exercise because these can help strengthen your stomach and back muscles. With this exercise it is important to follow correct form to prevent excessive strain on your lower back. This means keeping your feet and lower back (particularly your tailbone) in contact with the floor/mat throughout the exercise. To perform, position yourself as if doing an abdominal crunch with hands crossed over your chest or behind your head. Then raise your shoulders off the floor, tightening your stomach muscles and breathing out at the same time. Repeat between eight and twelve times. Do not use your arms to pull your neck off the floor nor lead with your arms.

3. Wall Sits

Wall sits are a good exercise when don properly because the wall provides support for your back while your leg muscles and lower back muscles benefit from the stretching motion. To perform, stand roughly 10-12 inches from a wall and flexing your knees, lean backwards until your back is flat against the wall. Be sure that you are close enough to the wall as to be supported but not so close that you are not able to perform the exercise comfortably. From the leaning position, slowly bend your knees so that you slide down the wall, without losing contact with it. Hold this position for five seconds and then slowly slide back up the wall. Repeat the motion five times.

4. Bird Dog

This exercise is similar to some of the yoga positions recommended for lower back pain but with movement rather than being just a pose. We will reiterate again, that correct form is essential when doing these exercises to avoid making your back pain worse by inflaming the muscles around your lower spine.  For this one, crouch down onto your hands and knees, tightening your stomach muscles. Lift one leg and extend it out backwards keeping your hips level. Hold this position for five seconds. Lower the leg and repeat with the other leg. Repeat for each leg between eight and twelve times, trying to increase the length of hold for each repetition. When doing the bird dog, do not let the lower back muscles sag nor hold the leg position too high.

5. Bottom Lifts

The warning for this one is to avoid overarching your back as this will only add to the pain you are feeling. To perform a bottom lift, lie on your back, bend your knees and leave your heels on the floor while squeezing your buttocks. Lift your hips off the floor by pushing down on your heels. After lifting, your shoulders, hips and floor should be in a straight line. Hold this position while counting to five and then lower your hips to the floor slowly. Lie still for 10 seconds before doing another lift. Repeat this five times. Tighten your abdominal muscles both prior and throughout the lift to avoid the overarching mentioned at the beginning.


You shouldn’t feel any excess pain over the existing when you perform these exercises correctly. Stop the exercise and check you are doing the movement in the recommended way. If the pain continues, switch to another exercise. There are plenty of other exercises that assist in reducing lower back pain without causing additional discomfort. Try some yoga poses or some of the gentler moves from Pilates.