Partial crunches, hamstring stretches, wall sits and bridging are four exercises that can improve lower back pain. Regular weight lifting and aerobic exercise, such as walking, biking or running, are also helpful, but people should stop these exercises if they cause any pain. For people who experience lower back pain when doing land-based aerobic exercise, swimming is a good alternative.
Not all moves that strengthen the core prevent lower back pain. Partial crunches, during which the exerciser lifts only his shoulders off the floor, help lower back pain, but full sit-ups can make lower back pain worse. Although the exercises are similar, people doing sit-ups often use their hip muscles, which can create stress on the spine.
A similar problem occurs when exercisers substitute leg lifts for hamstring stretches. Leg lifts do strengthen the core, but they can overexert the core muscles and cause back pain. Exercisers who want to keep leg lifts in their workouts should lift only one leg at a time and bend the other leg while resting the foot on the floor. They should also only raise their heels about six inches off the floor.
Yoga is another exercise that can strengthen the core. A supine hamstring stretch, two-knee twist, sphinx, thread the needle and legs up the wall pose can all help stretch and strength the muscles of the lower back.