Woman doing core exercise with yoga ball

Exercises To Strengthen Your Core and Prevent Low Back Pain

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we understand that back pain is more than just an inconvenience — it can negatively impact your work, daily routines, relationships, and overall energy level. 

Our physiatrists, who specialize in relieving pain and restoring function through nonsurgical means, often prescribe physical therapy and home exercises when addressing low back pain. We find that customized exercises can directly target the underlying reasons for lumbar discomfort and so not only lessen low back pain but prevent it from recurring.

Ten Causes of Low Back Pain

Back pain can stem from a wide range of sources, including:

  • Age
  • Poor posture
  • Obesity or pregnancy
  • Psychological stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Muscle or ligament strain due to heavy lifting or awkward movements 
  • Bulging or ruptured discs that press on a nerve
  • Osteoarthritis, bone spurs, stenosis
  • Skeletal irregularities, like scoliosis
  • Osteoporosis that can result in hairline fractures

Although rest may be required during an acute episode of low back pain, making back exercises part of your daily routine can go a long way to increasing your flexibility and range of motion and decreasing your risk of chronic and acute pain.

How Physical Therapy Addresses Back Pain

Physical therapy is a cornerstone of low back pain treatment. It not only helps alleviate pain but also strengthens muscles to prevent future issues. Below are some of the exercises we often incorporate into our physical therapy programs. All of these low back exercises should be repeated 3-5 times twice a day with gradual increases in duration as your core strengthens:

Knee-to-Chest Stretch and Hold

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 
Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest.
Tighten the muscles in your belly and press your spine to the floor for 5 seconds. 
Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
Go back to the starting position. 
Repeat with both legs at the same time. 

Back Press

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 
Flatten your back, pull your belly button toward the floor, and hold.
Then release and repeat. 

Bridge Exercise

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Keep your shoulders and head relaxed on the floor while tightening your belly and buttocks. 
Lift your hips off the ground to make a bridge. 
Remain in that position for 5-10 seconds.
Slowly lower your hips to the ground and relax.

Cat Stretch

Get on your hands and knees.
Slowly arch your back, pulling your belly up as you bring your head down. 
Then slowly let your back and belly down as you bring your head up. 

Press Up

Lying flat on your stomach, bring your elbows to your sides and place your hands just above your shoulders. 
Your legs should be fully extended, your hips flush with the floor. 
Pull your shoulder blades back and in while you lift your chest off the ground. 
Hold for 5 seconds, making sure that your legs and hips stay in contact with the floor or mat. Your neck should stay long and in line with your upper spine the entire time. 
Slowly return your chest to the ground. 

Our Experienced Physiatrists Will Create a PT Program Just for You

To make sure you do these exercises properly, it is important to begin with professional instruction and guidance. Once you contact us, we will design a program of physical therapy customized to meet your individual needs and set you up with our talented physiatrists. Our goal, like yours, is to keep you free of low back pain and improve your quality of life.