Lower back pain: exercise circuit
Do these exercises in the order shown. The first four exercises warm up the body; in particular, the lower back, hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes, which can get tight if you have been sitting all day. The exercises that follow then work on strengthening the lower back and core muscles.
Get on your hands and knees. Palms should be flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart, while knees are hip-width apart and bent 90 degrees. Engage your core and abs and keep your spine in a neutral position.
Cat phase: round your back up toward the ceiling. Hold pose.
Camel phase: lift your buttocks towards the ceiling while pressing your stomach towards the floor. Hold pose. Repeat phases alternately in a slow, controlled manner.
2. Side bend
Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Slide left arm down left leg towards the knee, reaching as far as you can without twisting the body. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat on other side.
3. Seated spinal rotation
Sit tall on a chair, keeping feet flat on the floor. Extend arms straight in front of you at chest level. Twist torso to the right, keeping head and neck in line so that you're always facing your hands. Keep hips facing straight. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat on other side.
Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Step right leg forward, keeping right knee over right ankle. Tuck pelvis under to feel the stretch in front of the right hip. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat on other side. A simpler variation: drop your rear knee to the ground for support, keeping a 90-degree bend.
Get on your hands and knees, similar to the starting position for the cat-camel exercise. In a slow, controlled movement, extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward. Keep hips and shoulders square and lower back straight. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat on other side. A simpler variation: raise only one limb at a time.
6. Bridge variations
6a. Front: Lie on your stomach with arms bent, palms and forearms on the floor. Using your core, lift torso off the floor. Keep palms, forearms and toes on the ground, and back straight. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat. A simpler variation: keep knees on the floor.
6b. Side: Lie on your side with legs extended. Place right elbow directly under your shoulder to prop up your torso, while keeping your head aligned with the spine. Lift your hips and knees off the floor. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat on other side. A simpler variation: keep knees on the floor.
6c. Supine: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms by the side and heels hip-width apart. Using your glutes and core, push your pelvis upwards until your body forms a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold pose. Return to start position and repeat.