Low back pain seems to be one of those things that just creeps up on you in life.

You're feeling fine overall—just a couple of twinges in your low back every once in a while.

Then, one day you tie your shoes. Or get a can of green beans out of the cabinet. Or sneeze.

And now you have to take a sick day from work because you literally cannot move out of this position.

Back pain is the worst. And that your body's final straw is so often a common action—like bending over, reaching, or sneezing—makes this type of pain disgusting and discouraging.

The good news is that for many people, imbalanced muscles are the cause of this pain. Below are five of my go-to exercises to help immediately relieve low back pain.

5 Exercises You Can Do Right Now for Immediate Low Back Pain Relief

If you've got low back pain and want to feel better right now, give these simple exercises a try.

1. Relieve your low back pain with Windshield wiper legs.

windshield wiper legs

As soon as your low back starts hurting, give this gentle spinal twist a try. Play around with turning your head away from your knees. For some people, this can greatly increase the pain relief from this exercise.

Here's what you need to know to get the most benefit from Windshield wiper legs.

  • Lay down on your back.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor wider than your hips. If you happen to be on an exercise mat, you should place your feet on the outside edges of your mat.
  • Slightly turn your toes away from you.
  • Gently allow both knees to lower toward one side.
  • Turn your head to look away from your knees.
  • Bring your head and knees back to center.
  • Lower your knees to the other side.
  • Turn your head to look away from your knees.
  • Bring your head and knees back to center.
  • Repeat this as many times as you'd like. Just make sure to go to the right as many times as you go to the left.

2. Get the correct back muscles working with Imprint.

a picture of the low back with the pelvis is tilting in to imprint

If you've been Googling what to do for low back pain, you have probably already come across the exercise, Pelvic tilts.

Imprint is comparable to Pelvic tilts except, with the addition of Pilates mindfulness, it's more effective.

Here's how to practice Imprint correctly and relieve your pain quickly.

  • Begin on your back with a neutral low back. (This means you want to make sure there's a space between your low back and the floor.)
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor in line with your SITs bones. (These are the two bones you can feel near your tailbone when you take a seat on a hard surface.) Your feet should be about a fist's distance apart.
  • To do Imprint correctly, you want to focus on two muscle groups working:  your abdominals and your low back muscles.
  • Take a big inhale, and fully exhale. Let yourself really feel like you're a deflated balloon.
  • Once you feel completely deflated, lightly activate your deepest abdominal muscle. (This helps keep your rib cage in place while your hips move.)
  • Inhale into the sides of your ribs.
  • Exhale and activate your abdominal muscles to help tilt your pelvis. When this happens, your low back should reach toward the floor.
  • Inhale and activate your low back muscles to help return your pelvis all the way back to neutral.
  • Do about 10 repetitions of this exercise, alternating between using your abdominal muscles to move you one way and your low back muscles to move you back to neutral.

Please note, you should never, ever feel your gluteus maximus (butt muscle) start to squeeze and work.

This exercise is purely for abs and low back muscles.

3. Relieve back tension with Spinal rotation.

spinal rotation

No matter where your back pain is, Spinal rotation is sure to help realign you quickly. Here's the very best way to practice this go-to exercise.

  • Begin on your side with your knees bent. Make sure your knees are right in front of your hips, and your ankles are right in line with your knees.
  • Ensure you are right on your shoulder socket. This exercise won't be as effective if your shoulder is slightly in front of your body.
  • Reach your arms straight in front of your shoulders.
  • Hug your belly button toward your spine.
  • Inhale and lift your top arm toward the ceiling.
  • Turn your head to look at your top hand.
  • Exhale and use your spinal muscles to rotate your rib cage open. As you rotate, allow your head to rest on the ground.
  • Make sure your arms are reaching straight away from each other. Don't let your lifted arm get droopy and sag toward the floor.
  • Hold here and breathe.
  • Inhale and rotate back onto your slide with your top arm reaching toward the ceiling. Make sure you watch your lifted hand as you rotate back to neutral.
  • Exhale and lower your top hand to meet the other hand.
  • Complete another Spinal rotation on this side.
  • Then, switch sides.

4. Stretch your low back (and open your hips) with Happy baby.

happy baby pose

Before I learned about Happy baby, I used to hug my knees toward my chest and rock from side to side. This created a gentle massage for my low back, but it didn't really relieve my pain. Instead, this exercise worked kind of like a Band-Aid.

However, when you practice Happy baby, you get your gentle back massage plus you create longer-lasting pain relief. The key is getting yourself into a position so that, as you rock, you massage both your low back and the outside of your hips.

Here's what you need to know to find fast relief with Happy baby.

  • Begin on your back.
  • Let your low back reach toward the floor as you bring your right knee up toward your chest.
  • From your hip, rotate your right knee away from your body.
  • Reach your right arm along the inside of your right leg. Grab the outside edge of your right foot with your right hand.
  • Bring your left knee up toward your chest.
  • From your hip, rotate your left knee away from your body.
  • Reach your left arm along the inside of your left leg. Grab the outside edge of your left foot with your left hand.
  • From your belly, start to rock yourself from side to side. Let all of your movement come from your abdominals.
  • Feel your low back and the outside of your hips press into the floor as you rock from side to side.
  • When you feel like you're finished rocking, come to center and gently lower one foot at a time to the floor.

5. Relax angry back muscles with Child's pose.

child's pose

Child's pose is a fantastic way to relax angry back muscles because you can give your entire back a gentle stretch. When your hips are higher than your head, you are performing a natural form of traction for your spine.

This traction is very moderate, but it still helps you reverse the effects of your back's daily fight against gravity.

Here's how to practice this relaxing pose.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Spread your knees wider than hip-width apart. Or, if you're on an exercise mat, spread your knees to the edges of the mat.
  • Angle your pelvis so it feels like you're sticking your butt out at the wall behind you.
  • Hug your belly button toward your spine.
  • Lower your bottom toward your heels.
  • Reach your arms straight in front of your shoulders.
  • Hold and breathe. If you notice any tight spots, try to fill them with air when you inhale. Then, when you exhale, feel the tension and your breath leave that area.
  • When you are finished, sit up.

What Muscles Could Cause Low Back Pain?

When you're trying to figure out what is causing your  low back pain, make sure to check out these muscles:

You can do this. I believe in you.

This list can seem overwhelming at first, but try to really focus on where you feel your pain. By pinpointing a specific painful spot, you can get a good idea of a starting point.

For example, if you have low back pain right now, check out your iliopsoas, quadratus lumborum, and iliocostalis lumborum. They are most likely the current culprits of your pain.

However, you should also take a moment to check out the piriformis and the deep lateral rotators. These muscles often work and cause trouble with the iliopsoas muscles.

If you have had low back pain in the past and are searching for muscles to strengthen to ensure you won't have back pain in the future, click on the links and learn how to strengthen your erector spinae, abdominals, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

When you become a member of the Custom Pilates and Yoga community, you’ll learn simple, strengthening exercises to help you enjoy your favorite activities with less pain and more energy.

Call Your Doctor When...

Although these exercises will help you relieve pain if you have tight or weak muscles, they won't do a bit of good if you have skeletal issues or torn muscles or tendons.

You should absolutely contact your doctor if:

  • your pain increases when you do these exercises.
  • you don't notice decreased pain after two weeks.
  • you notice numbness or tingling.

It's okay to want to try to relieve your pain yourself, but it's also okay to get your doctor's help.