To 3 Core Activation Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

By: Darwin Paulraj, Physiotherapist

One of the most common areas we treat as Physiotherapists is the low back. Most people are not aware of the best exercises to perform to activate the core muscles after an episode of acute back pain or immediately after back surgery.

Here are my top three exercises to strengthen and activate the core muscles in the early phases of recovery.

Pelvic Tilt (posterior)

    1. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently rock your pelvis upwards and flatten your back into the bed or floor.
    2. Note: You should feel your ab muscles and bum muscles (glutes) tighten a little.
    3. Rock back to your starting position and repeat. Aim for five repetitions, 2-3 times a day in the first few weeks following a surgery or injury.
    4. As you progress, allow your back to arch up a little more and tighten your abs more strongly as you push your back into the floor.
    5. Build up towards 20 repetitions.

You can also try this variation: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently rock your pelvis upwards and flatten your back into the bed or floor. While taking deep breaths, hold this position for 15-30 seconds.

Heel Slides

    1. Lie down on the floor or the bed with your legs flat.
    2. Slowly begin to slide one heel toward your bum, keeping your heel on the floor or the bed. Your knee will begin to bend.
    3. Note: Continue to slide your heel and bend your knee until it is at its maximum range, and you can feel a small amount of pressure inside your knee.
    4. Hold this position for about 5 seconds. Slide your heel back down until your leg is straight on the floor or bed. Aim for five repetitions before switching to the opposite side.

Knee Roll

    1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms out to the sides. Keep your knees and ankles together and slowly let your knees begin to drop over to one side. Start will small movements and progress to larger rotations.
    2. Carefully tighten your ab muscles and roll your knees over to the other side. Try to keep your shoulders down and your head relaxed, looking up with your eyes.
    3. Aim for five repetitions, 2-3 times a day in the first few weeks following surgery. As time goes on, you can increase the range, so your knees drop lower and build up to 20 repetitions.

Once these exercises are comfortable and done in a pain-free manner, it may be time to see your Physiotherapist for more challenging exercises to continue your road towards full recovery. If you’re experiencing low back pain or need some extra guidance, feel free to book with one of our Physiotherapists at our Red Deer clinic today by clicking here.