Low Back Pain Exercise Progressions

Some of my current ideas for exercise progression for various low back pain problems:

Controlling flexion:
-Hooklying Marching
-Up, Up, Down, Down – focus on ascent
-Marching from 90/90 hip / knee flexion – focus on ascent

-Bridge – emphasis to maintain lordosis, especially on descent
-Bridge with single leg hold
-Single leg bridge

-Sit to stand
-Hip Hinge to Wall
-Deadlift
-Squat
-single leg deadlift with 1 hand support, then without – emphasis on keeping up leg high
-Single leg sit to stand
-single leg squat

Controlling extension:
-heel slide
-march to heel slide
-Up, Up, Down, Down – focus on descent
-Marching from 90/90 hip / knee flexion – focus on descent

-Quadruped arm lift
-Quadruped leg lift
-quadruped arm / leg lift
-plank from knees
-plank from toes
-plank from toes w/ leg lift

-Hip hinge – focus on ascent
-deadlift – focus on ascent
-single leg deadlift – focus on ascent

-overhead reach supine, then standing
-overhead press standing
-end range shoulder flexion w/ straight arm – supine then standing

Controlling Rotation:
-quadruped arm lift
-quadruped leg lift
-quadruped arm / leg lift
-plank w/ leg lift – start on wall, then to floor
-plank w/ arm lift – start on wall, then to floor

-clamshell
-side bridge / plank from knee
-side plank from knee w/ clamshell
-side plank from knee w/ hip abduction
-side plank from foot
-side plank from foot w/ hip abduction

-1 arm row w/ band
-1 arm flexion or extension w/ band

-side steps
-monster walk fwd / bwd

-multifidus walk – hands close, then far
-pallof press B squat, tall kneeling, 1/2 kneeling, partial lunge, 1 foot

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3 thoughts on “Low Back Pain Exercise Progressions

  1. Craig

    I find many clients unable to prevent pelvic rotation with the hooklying knee lifts and definitely with bridging to single leg. I therefore get a patient to do knee marches on a ball before hooklying (easier to control pelvic rotation), and I rarely get to progress to a bridge to single leg transfer. Are you as concerned with a bit of pelvic rotation/dropping? Thanks, great ideas!

    1. Marches on a ball are a great idea. I think using some of the Functional Movement Systems ideas are helpful as well. Try pulling a band down with both shoulders into extension to cue core stabilization. The problem usually is that the core is not firing properly to help the glute function. I would also take a look at other exercises where there is core asymmetry – side planks, bird dogs, rolling, anti rotation presses (Pallof press).

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