This low-impact, no-equipment workout helps reduce back pain and it’s just five moves

Movement and fitness coach, Jacqueline Gikow, shares with Fit&Well her top exercises for alleviating lower back pain

Jacqueline Gikow
(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

One of the best ways to manage lower back pain is to keep active and mobile but of course, this can seem tricky if you're in pain.

Low-impact exercise is great for maintaining fitness levels without causing any injury or furthering any pain. It's also really accessible as it often requires minimal to no equipment. For example, if you've ever questioned 'is walking good for lower back pain', the answer is yes, and all you need to get started is a pair of the best shoes for walking

But walking might not be for everyone. In a 2021 report released by the National Center for Health Statistics (opens in new tab), researchers revealed that 58.9% of American adults are living with some form of pain and back pain is the most common form, impacting almost two out of five US adults. Considering so many people are affected by back pain, it's important there are easy exercises out there for anyone to benefit from.

This is where Jacqueline Gikow (opens in new tab), a personal trainer, medical fitness specialist, and national board-certified health & wellness coach, can help. Gikow boasts a rich bank of knowledge on how to exercise to manage pain and has shared with Fit&Well five exercises for coping with lower back pain. 

Jacqueline Gikow's Five Exercises for Managing Lower Back Pain

High Knee Cross Body Exercise

Jacqueline Gikow performing a high knee cross body exercise

(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

Purpose: Activate lower body and core to improve balance and coordination.

Starting Position: Stand tall with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Looking straight ahead, open your chest, and engage your core muscles.

Movement:

  • Bend your elbows.
  • Raise your knee to slightly above waist level.
  • At the same time, twist your torso and move your left elbow towards the raised knee.
  • Lower your leg and bring your elbow back to neutral.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg and arm.
  • Alternate the movement for 10-20 repetitions.

Form:

  • Maintain a neutral posture.
  • Focus on bringing your leg as high as possible rather than bending your torso to reach your knee.

Dead Bug Bodyweight Exercise

Jacqueline Gikow preforming the starting position of a bodyweight deadbug exercise

(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

Jacqueline Gikow performing the second part of a bodyweight deadbug exercise

(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

Purpose: Strengthen core, spine, and back.

Starting Position: Lie on your back with your arms and legs in the air. Bend your knees 90 degrees (tabletop). Position your hands to face each other. Brace your core, maintaining contact between the low back and mat.

Movement:

  • Exhale and slowly lower one arm and straighten the opposite leg until they’re just above the mattress. Pause.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement with the opposite limbs.
  • This is one repetition.
  • Repeat set 10-20 times.

Form:

  • Avoid arching your back.
  • Do each movement slowly.

Glute Bridge Bodyweight Exercise

Jacqueline Gikow performing a glute bridge bodyweight exercise

(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

Purpose: Strengthen and stabilize back and glutes.

Starting Position: Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet flat. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with the toes facing forward. Place your fingers on your hip bones and your elbows on the floor for stability.

Movement:

  • Contract and tuck your glutes to press your hips upward, maintaining a neutral core.
  • At the same time press your heels and elbows onto the mat for stability.
  • Slowly lower yourself, rolling your spine towards your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-20 times.

Form:

  • Keep your abdominal muscles braced and maintain a neutral spine.
  • Avoid arching your back.
  • If your hamstrings seem to be working instead of your glutes, move your feet closer to your glutes.

Bird Dog Bodyweight Exercise

Jacqueline Gikow

(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

Purpose: Strengthen core, hips, and back muscles. Improves stability and relieve lower back pain.

Starting Position: Kneel on the mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward to place your hands under your shoulders at shoulder-width with your fingers facing forward.

Movement:

  • Extend one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on other side.
  • Repeat set 10-20 times.

Form:

  • Keep hips, shoulders, and neck parallel to the mat. 
  • Keep your abdominal muscles braced and maintain a neutral spine.
  • Avoid extending your neck up or flexing it down.

Downward Dog Stretch

Jacqueline Gikow performing a downward dog stretch

(Image credit: Jacqueline Gikow, LLC, ©2022)

Purpose: Strengthen ankles, thighs, shoulders, arms, wrists and core muscles. Release tension in the spine, shoulder blades, hamstrings, calf, and hands.

Starting Position: Kneel on your hands and knees. Place your hands shoulder width apart, fingers facing forward. Place your knees under your hips.

Movement:

  • Inhale and lift your hips up, then exhale to lower your heels towards the floor, straightening your legs.
  • Inhale and come up to the balls of your feet and exhale, lowering your heels. Repeat this three times.
  • Lengthen your spine by pressing your buttocks up and extending your neck away from your shoulders.
  • Tuck in your chin and draw in your abdominal muscles towards your spine.
  • Breath and hold this position for 20-30 seconds.

Form:

  • Relax your head and neck.
  • If your heels easily touch the floor, step your feet further away from your hands.

If you'd like to explore other avenues of exercise for back pain have you tried weight lifting for back pain? Or you can find out the answer to are exercise bikes good for back pain.

Jacqueline Gikow
Jacqueline Gikow

Jacqueline Gikow is a personal trainer, medical fitness specialist, and national board- certified health & wellness coach. The owner of Audacious Living NYC, her holistic, fitness practice in New York City, she focuses on pain relief through better movement. Also a writer, Jacqueline’s books are available on Amazon. Jacqueline supports your determination to hurt less, get stronger, and prevent reinjury.

Jessica Downey
Jessica Downey

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.