Seated Lumbar Flexion Exercise

Seated lumbar flexion.
Seated low back flexion can help improve your spinal mobility and decrease low back pain. Brett Sears, PT, 2013

 If you have low back pain, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to help manage your pain and improve your overall mobility.  Your physical therapist will likely prescribe specific exercises to help improve your range of motion, flexibility and strength.

One exercise to help improve your ability to bend your spine forward is the seated lumbar flexion exercise.  This exercise is simple to do, as it can be done sitting in a chair or on the edge of a bed.

 It is one of the exercises to be performed in the safe progression of lumbar bending.  It should be done once the low back flexion in lying has become easy and pain free.

Who May Benefit from Seated Lumbar Flexion?

In general, people with certain diagnoses benefit from seated lumbar flexion.  Those include, but are not limited to:

While people with these diagnoses typically benefit from lumbar flexion, not everyone does.  Sometimes people with spinal stenosis or facet syndrome benefit more from lumbar extension exercises that require the spine to bend backwards.

If you have low back pain, it is a good idea to visit your doctor to ensure you get the proper treatment.  A visit with your physical therapist can help you determine if low back flexion is the right thing for your specific condition.

Who Should Avoid Seated Lumbar Flexion?

There are a few instances where seated low back bending may cause worsening of your condition.  These include, but are not limited to:

    Again, a visit with your doctor or physical therapist may be necessary before starting this, or any other, exercise for your back.

    Performing the Seated Lumbar Flexion Exercise

    To perform the seated low back flexion exercise, find a chair to sit in.  Alternatively, you can sit on the edge of your bed to do the exercise.

    • Scoot your bottom to the front edge of the chair.
    • Slowly allow your body to bend forward as you reach to the floor.
    • Allow your low back to bend as your hands touch the floor.
    • To add overpressure and increase the stretch, grab your ankles and gently pull your back into more flexion.
    • Hold the forward bent position for 1 to 2 seconds, and then slowly return to the starting position.
    • Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions.

    While you are performing the lumbar flexion exercise, be sure to monitor your symptoms.  If your symptoms are decreasing or centralizing to your back, then the exercise is the correct one for you.  If you feel pain that is worsening as you exercise, stop immediately and check with your doctor.

    The seated lumbar exercise can be done several times throughout the day to manage the symptoms coming from your back.  It may be a part of your spinal stenosis exercise program. When your symptoms have been alleviated, performing this exercise may help to prevent future problems with your back.

    If you have back pain, talk to your doctor and see if physical therapy is appropriate for your condition. Your therapist can help determine the proper exercise progression for your back and can help you return to normal function quickly and safely.

    Continue Reading