Alex Simotas, MD

Hospital for Special Surgery
Board Certified Physiatrist
Specializing In Spine & Sports Medicine

Home > Wellness & Exercise > Exercise Groups > Low Back

Low Back

Exercise 1: Knee To Chest

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your back on a table or firm surface.
  2. Action: Clasp your hands behind the thigh and pull it towards your chest.
  3. Keep the opposite leg flat on the surface of the table.
  4. Maintain the position for 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.
  6. Do 3 repetitions daily.
Lower back excercise: Knee to Chest

Exercise 2: Pelvic Tilt

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your back on a table or firm surface.
  2. Place your feet flat on the surface and with both of your knees bent.
  3. Action: Push the small of your back into the floor by pulling the lower abdominal muscles up and in.
  4. Hold your back flat while breathing easily in and out.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds. Do not hold breath.
  6. Do 3 repetitions daily.
Low Back Exercise: Pelvic Tilt

Exercise 3: Hip Rolling

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your back on a table or firm surface, with both knees bent and feet flat on the table.
  2. Action: Cross your arms over your chest.
  3. Turn your head (trunk) to the right as you turn both knees to the left.
  4. Allow your knees to relax and go down without forcing.
  5. Bring knees back up, head to center.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds.
  7. Reverse directions.
  8. Do 3 repetitions daily.
3-Hip-Rolling

Exercise 4: Cat & Camel

  1. Starting Position: Kneel down on the floor and assume the “all-four’s” position.
  2. Keep your head straight so that the gaze of your eyes is toward the floor.
  3. Action: Slowly allow your trunk to sag as far as you can so that your back is arched.
  4. Do not pull it down, instead let it relax as you lift up your face towards the ceiling.
  5. Round your back up at the waist as far as you can by contracting your lower abdominal muscles as you lower the top of your head toward the floor.
  6. All motion should be initiated from your lower back.
  7. Do 3 repetitions daily.
4-Cat-Camel

Exercise 5: Lower Abdominal Exercises

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your back on a table or firm surface, with your knees bent and feet flat on the table.
  2. Flatten your back to the floor by pulling your abdominal muscles up and in.
ACTION: A

  1. Bring one knee toward your chest.
  2. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
  3. Lower your leg to the starting position.
  4. Then repeat on your opposite knee.
5-Low-Abdominal-A
ACTION: B

  1. Bring one knee toward your chest.
  2. Straighten the knee.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower the leg to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on opposite leg.
5-Low-Abdominal-B
ACTION: C

  1. Raise your leg keeping your knee straight.
  2. Hold for 20 seconds.
  3. Slowly lower the leg to the floor.
  4. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Maintain your pelvic tilt and keep your resting leg relaxed at all times. Do not hold your breath. Do 3 repetitions daily.

5-Low-Abdomina-C

Exercise 6: Hip Extension

  1. Starting Position: Assume they “all-four’s” position.
  2. Action: Bring one knee toward your head as you lower your head.
  3. Extend the head up and the leg out to a flat position parallel to the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat, alternating legs.
  6. Do 3 repetitions daily.
6-Hip-Extension

Exercise 7: Hand-Knee Rocking

  1. Starting Position: Kneel on a mat with your knees and ankles touching the mat.
  2. Allow your buttocks to rest on your heels.
  3. Action: Move your upper body over so you are in a crouched position with your arms stretched out in front of you.
  4. Relax in this position and then slowly move forward with your elbows straight into a press-up position.
  5. Do 3 repetitions daily.
7-Hand-Knee-Rocking

Exercise 8: Hip Extension

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your stomach on a mat.
  2. Bend your knee to a 90 degree angle so the sole of your toot faces the ceiling.
  3. Action: Lift one thigh off the table approximately 6 inches by raising your foot toward the ceiling. Make sure your hip bones do not leave the table as you lift the leg.
  4. Slowly lower your thigh back to the starting position.
  5. Do 3 repetitions daily.
8-Hip-Extension

Exercise 9: Upper Back Stretch

  1. Starting Position: Sit on a stool with your back flat against a wall.
  2. Action: Lift your arms overhead, keeping your head and back flat against the wall.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4.  See if your shoulders can touch the wall while keeping your back flat.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Lower your hands to the starting position.
  7. Do 3 repetitions daily.
9-Upper-Back-Stretch

Exercise 10: Side Bending

  1. Starting Position: Stand up straight with your arms at your sides and your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Action: Bend your trunk to one side, by lowering your shoulder.
  3. Run your hand down the outside of your thigh.
  4. Hold for ___ seconds.
  5. Slowly straighten up.
  6. Repeat to the opposite side.
  7. Do ___ repetitions ___ times per week.
10-side-bending

Exercise 11: Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Lie on your back near edge of bed, holding knees to chest.
  2. Slowly lower one leg down, keeping knee bent, until a stretch is felt across top of the hip/thigh.
  3. Hold 20 seconds.
  4. Relax.
  5. Repeat 5 times on each side, once a day.
11-hip-flexor-stretch

Exercise 12: Pirformis Stretch

  1. Lie on back with both knees bent.
  2. Cross one leg on top of the other.
  3. Pull opposite knee to chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock/hip area.
  4. Hold 20 seconds.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat 5 times each side, once a day.
12-performis-stretch

Advanced Exercises: Core Strength With Swiss Ball

Abdominal muscles must remain contracted during each exercise. The further the ball is from your body, the harder the exercise.

ACTION A

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and calves resting on ball.
  2. Slowly raise arm overhead and lower arm, alternating right and left sides.
  3. Slowly straighten one knee and relax, alternating right and left sides.
  4. Slowly straighten one knee and raise opposite arm over head.
  5. Alternate opposite arms and legs.
  6. Slowly walk the ball forward and backward with legs.
  7. Do 2 repetitions once a day.
13-advance-stretch-ball
ACTION B

  1. Sit on ball with hips and knees bent 90-degrees and feet resting on floor.
  2. Slowly raise arm overhead and lower arm, alternating right and left sides.
  3. Slowly raise and lower heel, alternating right and left sides.
  4. Slowly raise one heel and raise opposite arm overhead.
  5. Alternate opposite arm and heel.
  6. Marching: Slowly raise one foot 2 inches from floor, alternating right and left sides.
  7. Do 2 repetitions once a day.
13-advanced-ball-B
ACTION C
  1. Stand with ball between your low back and the wall.
  2. Slowly bend knees 45 to 90 degrees.
  3. Hold 5 seconds.
  4. Straighten knees.
  5. Slowly bend knees 45 to 90 degrees while raising both arms overhead.
  6. Do 2 repetitions once a day.
13-advanced-ball-C