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Exercises to Relieve L5-S1 Compression

author image John Tavolacci
Based in New York, John Tavolacci has been a leading exercise physiologist for over 14 years. His resume includes stints in cardiac rehab, sports conditioning, physical therapy and corporate wellness. He is a certified health/fitness instructor and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Tavolacci also holds a master's degree in exercise physiology from Queens College.
Exercises to Relieve L5-S1 Compression
A compression of the L5 - S1 spine can be crippling.

The lumbar spine has five vertebrae which are abbreviated as L1 through L5. The sacrum also has five bones which are labeled S1 through S5. The L5 vertebrae articulates with the S1 vertebrae. A L5-S1 compression is a degeneration of the nerve root connecting the lumbar and sacral spine. Core strengthening can help you battle the symptoms of L5-S1 compression.

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Supine Hip Hinges

Supine hip hinges engage the inner abdominals and hip flexors. Lie on your back with your legs elevated to form right angles. Slowly allow your right lower leg down and forward. Tap your right heel to the floor by extending your right hip, still keeping a right angle leg position. Bring the right leg up until your right thigh is vertical to the floor. Hold your right leg stationery and repeat the above steps with your left leg. Sustain your trunk stabilization while continuing to alternate between the right and left legs. Stop the exercise once your lower spine starts to arch. Make sure to move your legs in a controlled fashion.


Bridges recruit the inner abdominals, hamstrings and gluteals. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips while contracting your glutes and abdominals. Hold the glute and abdominal contraction for three seconds at a full extension. Keep your core muscles stabilized as you lower your hips down. Go right into another hip extension once your hips are just shy of the floor. Excessive elevation in your hips will throw your pelvic region out of alignment.

Prone Elbow Planks

Elbow planks target the inner abdominals from a prone position. Place your body face down with the outside of your forearms on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to situate your arms at right angles. Align your hips with your spinal column while straightening your legs. Prop your heels off the floor to support your lower body. Sustain your plank position for 10 to 15 seconds. Proper trunk stabilization determines how long you hold the plank. Excessive tension in your upper extremity takes emphasis off your core.

Ball Squats

Ball squats strengthen the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. A strong lower body diminishes strain on the lower spine. Lay a stability ball flat on a stable wall, with the other side of the ball stationed on the middle of your lower back. Flatten your feet on the floor while lining them up with your hips and shoulders. Straighten your legs and allow your arms to hang vertically to the floor. Bend your knees to lower your hips downward in a motion that resemble sitting in a chair. Hold for about three seconds once your thighs are just shy of being horizontal to the floor. Elevate your hips to straighten your legs. Continue right into another repetition once your knees fully extend. Make sure your knees remain arranged over your toes.

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  • "Core Assessment and Training"; Human Kinetics; 2010
  • "Low Back Disorders, Second Edition"; Stuart McGill; 2007
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