Lower Back Pain Exercises (The Big 3)

Lower Back Pain Exercises (The Big 3)

AJ here, with Stronglife Physiotherapy. Sir Isaac Newton once said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” One of the giants in the physical therapy profession when it comes to low back pain is Dr. Stuart McGill. He’s fixed the backs of professional fighters, olympians and other elite athletes allowing them to return to high level competition. He has what he calls the big 3 exercises for spinal stabilization and in this video we’re going to show you how they’re done. Dr. McGill emphasizes that the muscles of the spine are designed for stabilization or rather, to prevent too much motion from occurring. Exercises and activities that have a lot of motion through the spine like full situps can cause excessive strain and lead to potential injury He also makes the point that endurance is especially important in these muscle since they are postural muscles, which means they are required to stay activated for long periods of time through out the day Get on your hands and knees. Find your neutral position by fully extending the spine then fully flexing the spine. Your neutral position should be somewhere in the middle but still have a slight curve in the low back Stiffen your core, lift your opposite arm and leg and hold for 10 seconds. bring the arm and leg down without putting any weight on them. Then raise them again and repeat 5-10 times on each side For added difficulty form circles or squares with your arm and leg. Lie down flat on your back One leg straight and the other bent. Place your hands under the small of your back for lumbar support. Lift your head and shoulders slightly Hold this position for 10 seconds, repeat 5-10 times. Get on your side with your top foot in front. And supporting yourself on your elbow You can place the top hand on the opposite deltoid to help support the shoulder. Lift your hips to straighten your body, keep your core stiff and your back and your hips straight Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 5-10 times. Work up to a minute long hold. If this position is too difficult or painful, it can be performed from your knees instead of from your feet. But you’ll want to eventually work up to performing it from your feet. These are 3 great exercises to help improve your ability to stabilize your spine. If you have low back pain Do them 2-3 times a day Once your pain is gone, do them 2-3 times per week as a maintenance program to prevent the pain from returning. Thanks for watching! Don’t forget to subscribe and give a thumbs up if you like this video. Have a great day! And stay strong!

Daniel Yohans

30 thoughts on “Lower Back Pain Exercises (The Big 3)

  1. R van Z. says:

    Thanks! So just one set of 5 to 10 reps per exercise?

  2. martinez 2 says:

    it's so fast! I can. not even concentrate how to do them!

  3. Earthdave says:

    I have shoulder issues (dislocation in one and 'frozen shoulder' tendinitis in the other) so I find putting my hands under my lower back for the curlup is not comfortable. I've improvised a cushion under my lumbar region of roughly finger thickness. Does this sound like an acceptable modification?

  4. Carlos Mustapic says:

    I suffer lower back pain from time to time. At the beginning I would suffer for a week at least until naturally healed. Since I've started doing this exercises I can tell that pain does not last longer than a day even at times just few hours. Repeat them twice or three times during the day and voilà!

  5. Kha Le says:

    I love this video. It is really useful. Thank you.

  6. Anthony Lipscomb says:

    I found this presentation first class; it was clearly explained and very well demonstrated.I hope that it will help my golf swing too,

  7. enniemeanieminnie says:

    My L5 & S1 disc are *herniated and a tear in my hip labrum (anterosuperior). I bought "Back Mechanics" by Stuart Mcgill for my back, but now I need to know what to do for my hip, that wont contradict any progress for my back. Can you make a video for someone in my position or suggest some exercises I could do or books I could read to help me?

  8. bombousboy says:

    Thank you very much. Most need and most useful. Highly appreciated.

  9. BRUCE of Scotland says:

    If back feels tender/hurts, wait for the flare to die down or still do everything 2-3 times a day?

  10. Seth Cashman says:

    Excellent video. Wondering, though, if the big three are contraindicated for people with herniations/ruptures…

  11. Hafud Yaseen says:

    About the third excersize …should I do it on right and left?

  12. Bob Schmidt says:

    You look like James Hetfield's cousin

  13. jusmascar1984 says:

    Hello, I don’t want to assume so my question is, while doing the mguill curl up, are you supposed to flex/brace your core? Do it prior to the lift or once you’ve curled up ? And also is it a bad idea to flatten your back while doing this, I’ve tried doing this and I find it difficult to get a good core brace ?

  14. J J says:


  15. Dean Linnell says:

    How often each week should this be done? 3 times per day seems excessive. You'd never do any exercise 3 times per day.

  16. Richard Metliss says:

    Its not a modified curl up, its lifting the head neck shoulders as a unit from the lower abdomen. This is the error all patients make. McGill specifically tells us not to curl which engages vertebral segment and tensions the disc material.

  17. Ali Chaudhry says:

    AJ should I continue to work out
    Sometimes running makes my lower back problem worse.

  18. Mohamad H says:

    Thank you

  19. Hunter Bowring says:

    I found this really helpful and am hoping it will help me maintain good posture as I lift weights. You mentioned exercises such as full body curls are bad for the spine. What exercises would you suggest instead? Leg lifts and things like that?

  20. Hacka_TV says:

    do these exercises also make sense when I have a disc bulge?

  21. Nosurf Central says:

    Mormons are the best.

  22. Sjkxıc Shejhd says:

    Good for fixing anterior pelvic tilt?

  23. M B says:

    Thanks for this simplified explanation! I'm gonna try it. I have 4 years of chronic lower back pain.

  24. DrOlds7298 says:

    Explained it a lot better than my Doctor did,that's for sure??

  25. Sifa Tulikihihifo says:

    Where in Orem are you located? I’d like to have a consultation to see how you can help me out. Thanks.

  26. Mitchell Manor says:

    you suggested that there were alternative ways to do the exercisers but you did not demonstrate how to do them. Please create a video that helps people that are farther down the scale of health.

  27. Michael Shaleen says:

    I birthed mcgill

  28. Naweed Iqbal says:

    Exercise 2 – do we need to repeat that by bending the other leg?

    Exercise 3- is that done on both sides?

  29. Katherine Jaconello says:

    Good demo. I do those exercises every 24 hours. Do buy the book, "The Back Mechanic". It is vital.

  30. Lennart Nieuwland says:

    What is painful problem you face in your business/ profession?
    I also watched and did the exercises in this video

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