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Modifications to Exercise for Lower Back Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

Those who suffer from back pain have trouble dealing with the pain, let alone thinking about getting up and exercising.  Before you throw in the towel on exercise, try these five exercise tweaks to keep your back strong.  As with any new exercise regime, talk with your doctor first.

Back Squat

Modify this exercise by using a stability ball instead of a bar and plates.  Perform a basic squat, but place the ball between your middle back and the wall.  By keeping the ball in this position forces the back to remain straight.  In this position, it is impossible to lean too far forward, which is a major cause of lower back strain.  Training yourself to have correct form will keep your spine and lower back in optimal health when progressing to moving off the wall and using weight.


Instead of trying to sit completely up with your chest touching your knees, modify this exercise by only coming up to where the shoulder blades come up off the floor.  Keep a neutral spine throughout the exercise.  Draw in your belly button toward your spine to press the small of your back into the floor.


Tight hamstrings can cause pain in the back when bending down all the way to the floor.  Changing the starting point of the weights can reduce the strain on the back.  Placing the weights on blocks or only lowering the bar to knee height before lifting up to the thighs is also a modification that can help the lower back.

Leg Lift

A wonderful way to exercise the lower back, leg lifts strengthen the core muscles which support the back.  However, many people arch their lower back which is not good for the back.  Squeezing the gluteal muscles helps during this move.  Also, lifting only one leg at a time while keeping the opposite knee pointed toward the chest keeps the spine in a neutral position.


The spine should be neutral in a plank position.  However, many people either arch their back and drop their hips toward the floor or raise their buttocks toward the ceiling.  Proper plank form means maintaining a straight line from head to heels.  Pull the ribcage down and clench the gluteal muscles tight.  Use a mirror to check your form.

Modify this exercise by placing the hands on an elevated surface first.  When the core muscles get stronger, go back and try a full-on plank.

Visit the chiropractors at The Joint to ensure that your spine is in proper alignment so that these modified exercises will continue to strengthen your back and spine muscles.  With no pesky insurance forms to fill out or appointment times to remember, The Joint makes it easy to get back into your exercise routine, pain free.

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