Acute Low Back Pain: Exercises

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Here are some examples of typical rehabilitation exercises for your condition. Start each exercise slowly. Ease off the exercise if you start to have pain.

Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you when you can start these exercises and which ones will work best for you.

When you are not being active, find a comfortable position for rest. Some people are comfortable on the floor or a medium-firm bed with a small pillow under their head and another under their knees. Some people prefer to lie on their side with a pillow between their knees. Don't stay in one position for too long.

Take short walks (10 to 20 minutes) every 2 to 3 hours. Avoid slopes, hills, and stairs until you feel better. Walk only distances you can manage without pain, especially leg pain.

How to do the exercise


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  1. Get on your hands and knees. Your shoulders should be directly above your wrists, and your hips should be above your knees. Your back should be flat, and your neck should extend straight out from your spine. Your gaze should be toward the floor below.
  2. Relax your head and allow it to droop. Round your back up toward the ceiling until you feel a nice stretch in your upper, middle, and lower back. Hold this stretch for as long as it feels comfortable, or about 15 to 30 seconds.
  3. Then let your back curve down by pressing your stomach toward the floor. Lift your buttocks toward the ceiling. If it doesn't bother your neck, you can raise your head as you allow your back to sway. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Go back and forth smoothly 2 to 4 times between the rounded back and swayed back positions.

If you have a neck problem or injury, keep your neck in the original position in line with your torso instead of moving it with your spine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.