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Exercises for Pinched Nerve in Lower Back

Exercises for Pinched Nerve in Lower Back


There are many things to consider when dealing with a pinched nerve in your lower back. One of those things is where the pain is coming and what caused the pain in the first place. Pinched nerves often occur from nerves being compressed by surrounding tissues, (bone, muscles, tendons, cartilage) and the pressure from the tissues disrupts the nerve’s function. This disruption in the nerve’s function is what causes the numbness and tingling, pain, and even weakness in the muscle or joint.

A common cause for a pinched nerve in your low back is due to lumbar disc herniation. When a disc is herniated it presses against the nerve root which can cause a radiating pain into the glute, leg and foot, however, not all disc herniations produce symptoms. Most people experience sciatica with disc herniation and about 90% of sciatica symptoms can be improved with conservative management. I actually have disc herniation at L4 and L5 and I never experience symptoms UNLESS, I skip leg days.

exercises for pinched nerve in lower back

I encourage you to try these and be consistent! If you have been contemplating surgery and you have not attempted to do any exercise you will be doing yourself a huge disservice. The stronger your glutes and legs are, the more functional your upper half will be.

The muscle groups to be strengthened include quadratus lumborum, gluteus maximus and medius, quadriceps, abdominals and obliques.  The groups that need to be stretched (do not over emphasize the stretching) include the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, piriformis, erectors and quadratus lumborum.

workout programs for beginners


Criteria before engaging in these Exercises for Pinched Nerve in Lower Back:

  • No radiating pain
  • Full lumbar range of motion
  • Full motor control of lower extremities
  • Medical clearance from Physician

Also note, if you experience any radiating pain or numbness and tingling, discontinue exercise!

Leg Press


Start with half your body weight if possible. Do not allow your knees to lock once you push the weight, it can be harmful to your knees. Think about driving through the surface with your heals and not your toes. Do not lift your low back off the back pad while performing this exercise.

It is common to feel one leg working more than the other. If you notice that to be the case, try mentally telling yourself to use both legs evenly. The connection between mind and body is a powerful one and it is a connection that can be trained and strengthened as well. Once you feel you are advancing in this exercise, start using one leg at a time. Aim for 5 sets of 15 reps.

Leg Extension


Leg extensions target the quadricep muscles. Do this exercise thru full range of motion unless you have painful portions within the range of motion. Only do this exercise within the comfortable range of motion if you have had surgeries or previous knee injuries.

You can alternate between bilateral and unilateral (both or 1 leg at a time) and also point your foot inwards and outwards for a set or two to target different muscles in the quadriceps. Pointing your foot inward will target the vastus medialis, pointing your foot outward will target the vastus lateralis. Control the weight on both the up phase and down phase and do not go too heavy.

Leg Curl


Leg curls are for strengthening the hamstrings. Again, with this exercise perform thru full range of motion unless you experience pain. Do not do this exercise to fatigue as you do not want to place too much stress on these muscles. Aim for 4-5 sets of 10.

Back Extension

For this back strengthening exercise, be sure not to overextend as you lift your top half. Do not go more than 10 degrees of lumbar extension beyond neutral. This exercise can also be done flat on your stomach or you can use a back extension machine which are inside most gyms. As with all exercises, discontinue this exercise if it causes pain.

Control the movement! Slow and under control for each rep. You will feel this in your low back, glutes and hamstrings.

Chest Press

Fully support your spine while performing the chest press exercise. Keep your spine neutral and prevent arching. If you feel your deltoids initiating this movement more than your pecs, you will likely need to spend more time foam rolling your pecs and deltoids prior to doing this exercise. To add to that, before the chest press make sure you warm up with the seated row and internal external shoulder rotation exercises! Aim for 3-4 sets of 10-12

Seated Row

Variety of ways this exercise can be performed. Biggest thing to remember is to relax your shoulders (do not let them creep towards your ears) and maintain a neutral spine. Think about engaging the back muscles to initiate the movement and squeeze those muscles as you pull the weight towards your chest and torso. Aim for 3-4 sets of 15 reps.

Crunches/ Dumbbell Side Bends For Core Strength

Working the core is an absolute must when dealing with pinched nerves in the low back. There are so many muscles that stabilize and support the spine and unfortunately for a lot of individuals these muscles become weak due to lack of strengthening.

Dumbbell side bends and  crunches are good core exercises to start with. While performing the side bend exercise you are activating your obliques, deep muscles of the back and the quadratus lumborum. The crunches will work the rectus abdominals and you can add in some rotation by bringing your elbow to your opposite knee to include the obliques. Remember, control, control and focus on your breathing. Breath out every time you squeeze.

Hips and Glutes


Glutes and adductor muscles heavily influence the lower back. If your glutes become weak you will undoubtedly develop some sort of low back pain or hip pain and dysfunction.

With adductor dysfunction also comes hip, low back and knee dysfunction. The above exercises a just small examples of what can be done to strengthen these muscle groups, but they are easy to do and easy to get started with.

As I have stated with previous exercises, control the up and down/in and out phase of these exercises. These movements can be done using ankle weights and resistance bands as well. For each exercise aim for at least 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps!

Have fun with these exercises. I need to mention again to discontinue any exercises that induce pain. Always control the weight and the movement and avoid jerking movements. The jerking movements can cause stress and trauma to the tendons and ligaments which is the last thing you want to have happen.

Stretch and foam roll prior to performing these exercises and make these exercises for pinched nerve in lower back a priority in your everyday life!

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to comment below or email me at Jalen@nflblogr.com.



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