Good and Bad Exercises for Low Back Pain


Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain?

Not all exercises are good or beneficial for low back pain sufferers. In other words, there are good and bad exercises and you can worsen the problem if you are not careful . Find out which exercises are best for you.

Any mild discomfort in your back should disappear within 15 minutes of exercising, once your muscles start to warm up and work. If pain lasts more than 15 minutes or gets worse you should discontinue exercising and contact your osteopath, physiotherapist, GP or back specialist. If you already have a diagnosis and are under the care of a professional, stick to what they prescribed. Otherwise, stability Pilates exercises can help you strengthen your deep abdominal stabilising muscles.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do not do sit-ups. Strictly speaking, sit-ups cause too much compression on the vertebrae, especially if performed poorly. If your core musculature is weak and your spine inflexible, you’ll likely use your hip flexors rather than your deep abdominals. In addition, too much compression on your spine might damage your spinal discs, especially if you already have a spinal injury and your spinal discs are compromised.

Good and Bad Exercises for Low Back Pain


Slow and controlled crunches with a hold at the top are great to increase your upper back mobility and strengthen your abdominal obliques. However, make sure that your lumbar spine remains in a neutral alignment throughout. This means that you must keep a natural curvature in your lower back. Typically you will have a slight space under your lower vertebrae, and you are only bending your mid and upper back. Also, the lift should come from your abdominal muscles, not your arms.
To do this you should initiate with a slight head nod, to assure the neck is in the right alignment with the upper back when you lift. This will prevent hyper flexion or hyper extension of your cervical spine (neck).

Exercises for back pain ab prep

Flex your upper and middle back maintaining pelvis and lower back in neutral

Neutral lumbar spine is the key to an ab prep (crunch). Avoid tucking your pelvis. Maintain a slight natural curvature on your lower back as you lift your head and shoulders away from the floor. This keeps your rectus abdomens in a more lengthened position and you target your abdominal obliques. Avoid pulling your neck with your arms. WORK on the down phase of the exercise.


Do forward toe touches standing if you have lumbar bulging discs. However, if you are experiencing low back pain from disc herniations forward bending exercises could worsen things. To clarify, forward bending can further compress your lumbar discs and overstretch your ligaments and aggravate your pain. Especially if you have a recent strain on the disc, a tear or bulging and you haven’t had a proper diagnosis. Bending forwards unsupported to the end ranges greatly increases the pressure on the lumbar discs and over stretches your ligaments. Particularly following a recent injury, weakness and are doing these exercises unsupported.


Upper back extensions. Nonetheless, you should be using your upper back musculature, and not your arms or hands. Avoid over extending your neck. Specifically, your neck  (cervical spine) should continue the curvature of your upper back (thoracic spine). Once again, control the descent. Namely, mobilising your mid and upper back, and improving your posture is thought to reduce the stresses on your lower back, and thus, improving lower back pain.

Exercises for back pain extension prone

Modification avoiding thoracic extension strengthening spinal muscles

Controlled rotations to mobilise your upper back> Do this while engaging your core muscles to rotate you in a controlled manner. Try initiating the movement from the base of your spine, and draw in your lower abdominal muscles. Together with a forced exhalation and a gentle pelvic floor contraction, you will strengthen your deep abdominals while articulating your upper segments.
Keep true to your upright posture, while rotating, head over shoulders at all times.
If there is any discomfort, discontinue the exercise.

Exercises for back pain rotation3

Breathe out and rotate torso and head

Understanding which ones are Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain can make a difference to preventing more damage to your back. Book a 50%OFF first group class or personal training session today!

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Blog written by Carlo Yanez
Registered Osteopath B.A.(Hons.), B.Ost.(Hons)
Fully certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor