7 Physical Therapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

7 Physical Therapy Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Why visit a Physical Therapist? 

Most people visit a physical therapist to help them recover from injuries or pain that inhibits their ability to move normally. Physical therapists, or PTs, are experts in human movement, specifically the musculoskeletal system, aka issues with muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones (and often specialize in other areas as well). If you are experiencing sudden, sharp pain that is worse with movement, swelling, or the inability to move a body part, it might be a good idea to visit a PT. When it comes to lower back pain, here are 7 physical therapy exercises you can try at home to help with your pain. 


  1. Lie on your back with your legs bent.
  2. Lift your butt off the ground so there is a straight line from your shoulder blades to your knees.
  3. Slowly release back down one inch at a time.
  4. Do this ten times.

Knee to chest (one leg)

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight.
  2. Lift your right leg up by grabbing your thigh under your knee.
  3. Pull your right leg up toward your left shoulder and hold for as long as it feels comfortable to you. You should feel a nice stretch without pain.
  4. Do this on both sides.

Press-up back extensions

  1. Lie on your stomach with your elbows directly under your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your hips on the ground throughout the entire pose, push your shoulders back and up. If you have developed enough flexibility, push up onto your hands.

Bird dogs

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. 
  2. Kick your left leg back until it is straight and parallel with the floor. Reach your right hand out in front of you parallel to the floor. This alone might be enough for your body and you can release back down.
  3. If you’d like to challenge yourself further, pull your elbow and knee in towards your core and reach out again.
  4. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Partial crunch

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Place both hands under your body in the small of your back.
  3. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your head and shoulders off the floor.
  4. To make this a little more challenging, cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your head as you sit up.
  5. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Kneeling lunge

  1. Start by kneeling on the ground.
  2. Step your right foot out in front of you while keeping your left knee on the ground.
  3. Grab your left foot behind you and bring it up to your buttocks.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds or longer. Do this on both sides.

Roll on the Chirp Wheel

1. Lean back.

  • Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet firmly planted. 
  • Place the Chirp Wheel+ against your back in alignment with your spine. Take some time to center yourself and find balance even on the ground.
  • Lean back gently to transfer your weight to the wheel. Relax and find balance in this position before lifting your hips.

2. Lift hips.

  • Rest your hands on the ground, the wheel, or your chest for balance. Do whichever feels the most comfortable for you.
  • Lift your hips upward while relaxing your back. Find balance with your hips lifted before rolling on the wheel. 
  • Don’t tense up! The more you relax your back, the better it will feel.

3. Roll back and forth.

  • Begin to roll back and forth on the wheel by bending and straightening your legs. Use your hands for balance.
  • Just relax and hear the gentle pops, each one a quiet thank you from your spine. 
  • If one spot on your back is screaming for an extra massage, stop rolling to put pressure on that spot. Or switch to a smaller wheel.
  • Roll out for 3 to 5 minutes. Length of preferred use will vary by individual.
  • Relax your head back to avoid neck pain.


Howcast. (2014, March 7). How to Do the Bird Dog Exercise | Abs Workout. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/wiFNA3sqjCA

Ilano, J. (2021). 8 Proven Hip Stretches to Improve Your Hip Mobility. Retrieved from https://gmb.io/hip-mobility/

Maxwell, M. (2013, August 5). Partial crunch. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2LM4fmFf_g

Tavel, R. (2019, June 1). How to Know When You Should See a Physical Therapist. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/story/how-to-know-when-you-should-see-a-physical-therapist

The Iowa Clinic. (2020, March 10). Stretch and Strengthen Your Way Out of Lower Back Pain. Retrieved from https://www.iowaclinic.com/physical-therapy/stretch-and-strengthen-your-way-out-of-lower-back-pain/

Vive health. (2020, April 1). How to Properly Perform Press Up Back Extensions. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/5eme21V1IAE