Physiotherapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Physiotherapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Pain in any form causes discomfort and can affect an individual in many ways. Lower back pain is a common form of pain that people of all ages may experience. People feel this pain in the back area that starts below the ribcage (the lumbar region). You may feel lower back pain when you sit for long periods, lift heavy objects, or bend down. Several lifestyle or chronic medical conditions may lead to lower back pain.

Lower back pain may be mild or severe, depending on the causal factors. The discomfort it causes may make it difficult to go to work or participate in the activities you enjoy most. Lower back pain negatively affects your well-being and overall quality of life. While this condition sometimes gets better with painkillers, it may become recurring. Fortunately, physiotherapy offers a long-lasting solution for lower back pain. This article will explore physiotherapy exercises and other treatment methods for lower back pain at Cambie Physiotherapy.

Causes of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is often due to medical causes; however, you must know that some lifestyle choices put you at risk. We will dedicate this section to the medical causes and learn about the lifestyle factors in the next section. 

  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is an inflammation of the joints due to wear and tear of the structures within- bone, cartilage, ligament, etc. When osteoarthritis happens in the spine, it can cause lower back pain and stiffness. It starts as a gradual dissolution of the cartilage surrounding the joints, leading to tissue inflammation, ultimately resulting in lower back pain.
  • Muscle strain and sprain: There are several muscles and tendons in the lower back, and they are all prone to injury from sports activities, heavy lifting, strenuous exercises, etc. When that happens, we say the person has suffered a muscle strain, specifically a lumbar strain, because it happened in the back. On the other hand, a lumbar sprain results from a stretched or torn ligament in the lower back, probably due to a sudden fall or direct trauma that can disrupt the joint’s stability. 
  • Disc herniation: In between the vertebral column bones, we have spinal discs- gel-like, rubbery substances that act as shock absorbers to counter the strain on the spine during daily activities. As a result of this function, the spinal discs are prone to wear and tear from age, overuse, and injury, and the discs may rupture or bulge when weakened by these conditions, leading to intense pressure on the spinal nerves, a condition known as disc herniation. Herniated discs in the lumbar region lead to lower back pain.
  • Spine fracture: This is a situation in which the bones in the spine break. An individual involved in a motor accident, fall, or other traumatic event may develop a fractured spine. Some medical conditions, such as osteoporosis and spondylolysis, can also increase an individual’s chances of spine fracture. Regardless of the cause of the spine fracture, this condition may cause severe lower back pain.
  • Congenital spine curvatures: Some people are born with abnormal spine curvature due to conditions like scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, etc. These conditions lead to poor posture, putting intense pressure on the lumbar region’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and can cause lower back pain.

Other factors that cause lower back pain include fibromyalgia, spondylitis, spinal stenosis, sciatica, infections, spine tumors, cancer, pregnancy, etc.

Risk Factors for Lower Back Pain

Knowing what puts you at risk of back pain can help you prevent it. Some of the most common risk factors for developing lower back pain include:

  • Age: Generally, our body starts to deteriorate from wear and tear as we grow. The deterioration of old age also affects the discs that cushion our spines. These discs become weaker, making us susceptible to lower back pain. Age as a risk factor for lower back pain is why most people who suffer from the condition are over 30 years old.
  • Obesity: Overweight people are very likely to develop back pain because of the excess weight their spine has to bear. This excess weight puts a lot of pressure on the joints and discs in the lumbar region. 
  • Occupational requirements: Individuals who work in jobs that require heavy lifting or frequent bending are at higher risks of experiencing lower back discomfort. 
  • Lifestyle choices: Smoking, posture, level of physical activity, and other lifestyle choices can increase an individual’s chances of developing back pain.

How is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed?

Some lower back pain symptoms include stiffness, muscle spasms, numbness, and weakness. However, these symptoms may come on suddenly and leave as they like. Therefore, how is lower back pain diagnosed? Richmond physiotherapy uses the following methods to diagnose lower back pain.

It all starts with history and physical examination. A medical professional begins by asking about your current symptoms and previous medical history. Next, they’ll examine your lower back and check for visible signs of damage, such as broken or dislocated bones. A physical examination can help locate where you are feeling pain and determine if it affects your range of motion. 

Your physiotherapist may recommend imaging studies to see pictures of your discs, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other parts of your lumbar region. Examples of these imaging tests include X-ray exams, MRI, CT scans, ultrasounds, etc. They may also refer you to other professionals like medical doctors for further assessment and treatment when necessary.

Other tests you may undergo to diagnose lower back pain include electromyography, blood tests, urine tests, etc. Some of these tests depend on the cause of your lower back pain.

Physiotherapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

After thoroughly assessing the condition, physiotherapists often prescribe exercise routines for lower back pain in Westminster. Some of the most common physiotherapy exercises that can help lower back pain are:

Cat-Cow Stretch

The cat-cow stretch is a dynamic and fluid exercise. This back exercise for lower back pain improves your spinal flexibility and mobility. It also helps you relax your lower back muscles.

To do this exercise:

  • Get on your hands and knees
  • Keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
  • Inhale and arch your back
  • Lift your chest and tailbone toward the ceiling and lookup
  • This is the cow position
  • Exhale and round your back
  • Tuck your chin and tailbone under and look down
  • This is the cat's position
  • Alternate between these two positions
  • Moving slowly and follow your breath 
  • Do this exercise 10 to 15 times in the morning and evening


The bird-dog is a good lower back exercise for seniors. This exercise strengthens your core and improves your balance and coordination. Doing the bird-dog regularly relieves your back pain and strengthens your glutes.

To do this exercise:

  • Get on your hands and knees 
  • Keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
  • Extend your right arm and your left leg
  • Keep them straight and parallel to the floor
  • Hold this position for five seconds
  • Return to the starting position
  • Repeat with your left arm and your right leg
  • Do this exercise 10 to 15 times on each side in the morning and evening or as needed. 


The bridge exercise helps to strengthen the lower back and relieve pain. If you want to perform the bridge exercise, follow these steps:

  • Lie on your back with your arms outstretched by your side.
  • Lift your hips and buttocks off the ground with your knees bent slightly above 90 degrees.
  • Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  • Ensure that your shoulders and knees are aligned.
  • Hold this position for as long as possible.
  • Return to your starting position by lowering your buttocks to the ground.
  • Repeat the process for as many times as possible.

The bridge exercise makes it easier for you to perform your daily activities that lower back pain makes difficult.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

The knee-to-chest exercise is for the lower back, glutes, thighs, and hips and releases tension in these areas. To perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your back and ensure both legs are at the same level on the ground.
  • Bend one of your legs, hold the knee, and pull it towards your chest. While in this position, keep the other leg extended on the ground. Breathe deeply and hold this position until it starts to feel uncomfortable.
  • Release your knee and return the leg to your starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise with your other leg.

Child’s Pose

This exercise is also a yoga pose. A child’s pose offers pain relief and opens up tight muscles in your lower back. You can perform a child’s pose through the following steps:

  • Start by getting on your hands and knees.
  • Adjust your feet until your heels are almost touching one another.
  • Shift your weight behind by moving your buttocks backward until they rest on your heels.
  • Outstretch your arms until it is impossible to go forward anymore.
  • Ensure that your chest is resting on your thighs.
  • Hold this stretched pose for as long as you like.

Other physiotherapy exercises that can help treat and manage lower back pain include cobra stretch, lumbar rotation, superman pose, bird-dog stretch, side twists, knee rotations, hamstring stretches, extensions, piriformis stretching, etc.

Guidelines for Performing Physiotherapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

You should exercise caution when performing physiotherapy exercises for lower back pain, as many of these exercise routines can worsen existing injuries or create new ones if not done correctly. First, you should always perform physiotherapy exercises in a well-lit, safe area after removing all dangerous objects. Yoga mats are an excellent idea for comfortable surfaces, and you should wear loose-fitting clothing suitable for the exercises.

When you want to start your routines, start with some warm-up exercises. Next, you can start physiotherapy exercises slowly and increase the duration and intensity of exercises only when you feel comfortable. Don’t forget to take breaks at intervals between exercises.


No one should have to live with unbearable lower back pain for any reason, and that’s why we have professionals offering physiotherapy at Cambie Physiotherapy as much-needed relief. Contact us today, and let’s help you start your recovery journey.