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5 Exercises to alleviate Low Back Pain

A simple guide to help address your low back pain from home

Low back pain can be a burden on your work, hobbies and just life in general, and that is perhaps why it is one of the leading causes of work absence in the UK.

As an osteopath, me and my colleagues see low back pain almost everyday, and personally I would say it’s the issue most patients present to me with. There is a wealth of evidence for the techniques osteopaths use for helping relieve low back pain, however exercise can also be a huge help and significantly improve the outcomes of patients. So in this blog I am going to give you my top 5 exercises to help alleviate low back pain.

Improving Lumbar Mobility:

Having good mobility throughout your spine is crucial when recovering or preventing an occurrence of low back pain. Here are two exercises which specifically help improve the mobility of your lumbar spine.

Knee Hugs:

  1. Lay flat on the floor on your back.
  2. Bring one knee up towards you and hold onto it then slowly bring the other up holding onto them with your arms. (See diagram)
  3. Secure your knees together and hold for a couple of seconds.
  4. Once stable, gently pull arms towards you which should cause your knees to move closer to your chest.
  5. Hold the position with your knees closest to your chest for 5 seconds and then return to neutral position (Step 3)
  6. Repeat this 10 times, twice daily.

Knee Drops:

  1. Lie on your back with a pillow underneath your head for support
  2. Bend your knees, so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  3. Keeping the knees together, drop them down to the right hand side of your body, whilst ensuring your back stays flat on the surface beneath you.
  4. Once the knees are dropped to the side of your body, hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Return to the neutral position and repeat on left side.
  6. Perform this 5 times on each side, twice daily.

Improving Gluteal Strength:

One thing I have noticed in clinical practice, is that more often than not, patients with persistent low back pain struggle to activate their glutes properly, therefore the large postural muscles of the low back known as the Lumbar Erector Spinae have to make up for this, placing somewhat unnecessary strain on lumbar spine. These next two exercises will help you to begin reactivating your glutes.

The Clam:

  1. Lie on your side with both knees bent up towards your torsos slightly and a pillow under your head.
  2. Line your heels up with your hips and pelvis
  3. Breath out and contract your abdomen, lifting the top knee towards the ceiling slightly
  4. Breathe in and lower your knee back the starting position slowly
  5. Repeat 10 times on each leg 2 times a day.

Glute Bridge:

  1. Lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line.
  3. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise.
  4. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
  5. Repeat the process 10 times, twice daily.

Psoas Stretch

Commonly known as the hip flexor, psoas major attaches from your lumbar vertebrae, down to your femur (thigh bone). This muscle can often shorten or tighten up when patients spend prolonged periods sitting, this muscle also tends to spasm after an incidence of low back pain as a protection mechanism. However, if not resolved after a few days, sometimes the psoas spasm can become an contributing factor to the longevity of pain.

  1. Kneel on the floor with one leg and with both your knees bent at right angles
  2. Keep your back straight and squeeze your glutes.
  3. Begin to translate your hips forward placing more weight onto the leg in-front of you until you feel a stretch in the groin.
  4. Once a stretch has been achieved hold for 10-20 seconds, taking deep breaths whilst doing so.
  5. Repeat this process 3-5 times, on both sides twice daily.

If you perform these exercises and don’t see any progress within a couple of weeks, it may be time to call an osteopath, and be examined by a professional.






Maniadakis, N., & Gray, A. (2000). The economic burden of back pain in the UK. Pain, 84(1), 95-103.

Searle, A., Spink, M., Ho, A., & Chuter, V. (2015). Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clinical rehabilitation, 29(12), 1155-1167.

Cooper, N. A., Scavo, K. M., Strickland, K. J., Tipayamongkol, N., Nicholson, J. D., Bewyer, D. C., & Sluka, K. A. (2016). Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls. European Spine Journal, 25(4), 1258-1265.

Cooper, N. A., Scavo, K. M., Strickland, K. J., Tipayamongkol, N., Nicholson, J. D., Bewyer, D. C., & Sluka, K. A. (2016). Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls. European Spine Journal, 25(4), 1258-1265.

Coyle, P. C., Velasco, T., Sions, J. M., & Hicks, G. E. (2017). Lumbar mobility and performance-based function: an investigation in older adults with and without chronic low back pain. Pain Medicine, 18(1), 161-168.

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