Video Series: Exercises for Lumbar Spondylosis

Try these 3 lumbar spine stretches and exercises to help reduce low back pain and stiffness that can be caused by spinal osteoarthritis, also called lumbar spondylosis.

What exercises help relieve lumbar spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis) symptoms?

If you want to reduce pain from lumbar spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis in your low back), adding physical activity to your daily routine is a smart move. While doctors once thought bed rest was the best approach for people with spinal osteoarthritis, they now believe exercise can safely help keep the spine mobile and strong.

Your spine specialist may recommend 3 stretches and exercises to ward off the pain and stiffness of lumbar spondylosis: pelvic tilt, knee lifts, and curl-ups. Each exercise is demonstrated in the videos above, with additional details included below.

Pelvic Tilt

Purpose: To strengthen your lower core muscles and stretch your lumbar spine.

How to perform a pelvic tilt:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. As you breathe out, contract and engage your abdominal muscles, push your belly button toward the floor, and flatten your low back.
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Relax.
  4. Repeat 10 times, holding for 5 seconds each time.

How can I tell if I’m doing the pelvic tilt correctly?

  • Using the same hand, place your pinky finger on your hip bone and thumb on your lowest rib.
  • As you squeeze your abdominals, the space between your pinky and thumb should get smaller.

Pelvic tilt illustrationPelvic tilts can help you gently stretch your low back. Photo Source:

Knee Lifts (Marching)

Purpose: To stabilize your lumbar spine and strengthen your core.

How to perform knee lifts:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Start by doing a pelvic tilt: Engage your abdominal muscles and push your belly button downward. It is important to maintain this contraction in your abdominals throughout the entire exercise.
  3. Raise your right foot 3 to 4 inches off the floor. Gently lower your foot to the floor.
  4. Repeat with your left foot.
  5. Do the exercise 5 times on each foot and up to 3 sets.

Lay on back with knees bent, exercise.After laying flat on your back, raise one foot at a time. Photo Source:

Curl-up (Crunch)

Purpose: To strengthen and stabilize your core.

How to perform a curl-up:

  1. Lie on your back in the hook lying position (knees bent and feet on the floor).
  2. Cross your hands and arms across your chest.
  3. Slowly raise your head, neck, upper back, and shoulders off the floor.
  4. As you raise up, exhale. As you lower down, inhale.
  5. Repeat 10 times and work up to 3 sets.

Ready to take on an advanced version? Instead of crossing your hands across your chest, place your hands behind your head with elbows wide. Gently lift (taking care not to pull on your neck) and lower 10 times, working up to 3 sets.
Curl crunch exercise, woman with her arms folded over chest.Curls-ups are a type of abdominal crunch exercise that can help strengthen your body’s core. Photo Source:

How can these exercises help reduce lumbar spondylosis pain?

These low back spondylosis exercises focus on strengthening your spinal support system—your back and core (abdominal) muscles. If the muscles around your spine support and stabilize your back, you may have less pain—and a healthier spine.

A strong core is key to back health. Your core muscles work like your spine’s "front anchor." When the spine’s supporting muscles are strong, you’ll likely experience reduced spinal osteoarthritis symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.

Can exercising with lumbar spondylosis hurt me?

Your spine specialist should give you the green light before you start any new stretching or exercise program. Even if an activity seems harmless, it can cause further injury if done without the guidance of your doctor.

The 3 stretches described here are intended for a wide audience, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. Your doctor knows your specific medical history, so he or she may refer you to a physical therapist (PT) or other trainer to show you how to perform other exercises and stretches that take your specific lumbar spondylosis diagnosis into account. A physical therapist may develop a spinal osteoarthritis PT plan based on your individual needs and teach you how to safety perform the exercises.

Lastly, don’t push yourself too far while exercising. Lumbar spondylosis is painful enough—listen to your body, and tell your spine specialist if you experience pain or other symptoms (like numbness and tingling) during physical activity.

Improving your mobility and low back strength won’t happen overnight, but consistency will pay off. Incorporating gentle exercises and stretches—like the 3 described here—into your daily routine can help you manage lumbar spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis) and keep your spine healthy for years to come.

Continue Reading ... If you have osteoarthritis in your neck, check out this Video Series: Exercises for Cervical Spondylosis for stretches that specifically address cervical osteoarthritis.