What are the best exercises for lower back pain?

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Conly

Exercise can be a great way to treat and prevent back pain. The most effective exercises to prevent back pain are those that focus on core strength. Most of us think of crunches and “6 pack abs” when we talk of core strength, but one of my favorite exercises for the low back is the “plank.”

Start by lying face down on the floor, an exercise mat, or other firm surface. Push up onto your forearms and toes, raising your chest, midsection and pelvis off the mat. It is important to keep your back straight, and not to let your pelvis “sag” during the exercise. Start by holding this position for 15 seconds - focusing on keeping good form. Gradually increase to 60 seconds, as you are able. Once you’ve mastered this, other variations such as the “side plank” can be added to your routine.

As with any new exercise program, the best advice is to “start low and go slow” : begin with fewer repetitions and shorter duration, and gradually increase the difficulty over the course of a few weeks. If you’ve tried stretches and exercises on your own, but your back pain continues, talk the problem over with your physician. He or she can prescribe an exercise program that is best suited to your specific back issue.

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