The lower back can develop pain and become injured both from lack of movement and from overuse. A sedentary lifestyle can hurt your lower back just as much as a vigorous lifestyle that puts too much stress on it--running, for example. Injuries and pain can be treated by doing gentle exercises and stretches. As you are recovering from a back injury, you may want to resume abdominal exercises, because keeping those muscles in good condition helps strengthen and support your lower back. Consult your doctor first to be sure which exercises are appropriate for your condition.
Pelvic tilts are a subtle ab exercise with little range of motion. To do these, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. The small of your back should be slightly elevated at this point. Slowly contract your abdominal muscles and feel your back press against the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat 3 to 10 times.
Press-ups are similar to push-ups, but you do not use your lower body. To do these, lie down on your stomach with your hands directly under your shoulders. Push your upper body off the floor as far as you comfortably can, then lower yourself back down. Your legs and hips should be touching the ground the whole time. Hold for 5 seconds at the top of the movement and do 10 to 12 reps.
Knee to Chest
The knee to chest stretch is done from a position lying on your back. Grab one leg and gently pull your knee into your chest. Press the small of your back into the floor as you do this. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Switch legs and do 5 reps on each side.
To do wall squats, assume a shoulder-width stance against a wall with your feet about 12 inches in front of you. Slowly slide down the wall until your knees are bent about 45 degrees. Contract your abs and hold for 5 seconds. Come back up and repeat 10 to 12 times.
To do leg lifts, start in a lying position on your back. Bend your left knee and place your foot flat on the ground. Extend your right leg straight out and lift it up until it is about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Do 10 to 12 reps and switch to the other side.
Arm and Leg Raise
Lie on the ground with your legs draped over a stability ball. Your knees should be bent about 90 degrees and your calves should be contacting the ball. Extend your right leg straight up while extending your left arm straight out behind your head. Hold for 5 seconds. Switch your arm and leg and do 10 to 12 reps on each side.