Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain in Washington, D.C.

At Release Physical Therapy, our seasoned therapists perform comprehensive assessments to pinpoint the root causes of your lower back pain problems. We then design individualized treatment plans aimed at promoting healing and relieving your specific issues.

Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain in Washington, D.C.

At Release Physical Therapy, our seasoned therapists perform comprehensive assessments to pinpoint the root causes of your lower back pain problems. We then design individualized treatment plans aimed at promoting healing and relieving your specific issues.

We'll help you get back to work, back in the game, and back to doing the activities you love.

Washington, D.C. Physical Therapy Treatment for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide. At Release Physical Therapy 30 percent of our patient population is lower back pain.  Lower back pain can be debilitating, affecting your ability to perform daily tasks, work, and sleep, and it can greatly affect your quality of life. The pain can be categorized into two main types: mechanical and derangement. Understanding these types of pain is the first step toward effective treatment, often involving physical therapy. 

Mechanical Lower Back Pain

Mechanical lower back pain, also known as musculoskeletal or nonspecific lower back pain, is the most common type of back pain. It’s often caused by strain or injury to the muscles and ligaments in the back, such as from heavy lifting, poor posture, or sudden awkward movements. The pain is usually localized in the lower back and may be accompanied by muscle spasms or stiffness.

Derangement Lower Back Pain

Derangement lower back pain, on the other hand, is less common but can be more severe. This type of pain is caused by structural problems in the spine, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease. The pain can be constant or intermittent, and it may radiate to other parts of the body, such as the buttocks, legs, or feet.

paul duffy
paul duffy
Best PT experience I’ve had thus far, and I’ve had quite a few. As a fitness professional and weekend foot soldier cyclist, I demand a lot from my body. Steph helped me restore stability and quality range of motion after my shoulder surgery and did far ahead of schedule. She’s the perfect balance of tough but caring, and above all very good at what she does.
jared hyman
jared hyman
The single best PT experience I’ve ever had.
Drew Fisher
Drew Fisher
Beautiful clinic and the therapist are highly skilled and knowledgeable. I always recommend Release to friends and family.
Phillip E
Phillip E
During a trip of mine in August 2021 I came to release physical therapy from NY. The majority of my therapy was dry needling and some post needling muscle re-education. I received dry needling mainly from Bettie Kruger. Mrs Kruger is a very efficient dry needler. Ive been to quite a few places and she definitely knows what she is doing. The function and effectiveness of dry needling is heavily dependent on the skill of the clinician. There are physical therapists in the D.C. area that I've been to first hand, who although they are certified in dry needling they haven't a clue what they're doing. Similar to some people who have a barbers license and still don't know how to cut hair. Aside from her skill in anatomy and needling Bettie is energetic, she doesn't cut corners or try to cheat you out of your time. She's not lazy. You'll get about 53 to 55 minutes for the hour. She is not against patient oriented care, meaning she is open and responsive to patient input and requests. Patient centered care is an extremely useful approach that helps relieve and calm down some of the psychologically induced brain and pain connections one may be dealing with. She doesn't just dictate to you what is going to happen because she is the therapist and youre the patient. I had a few sessions with Mrs.Simon, not as many as with Bettie. I'm pretty sure id have a very similar review and experience of her. Oh yeah they have a little blue tooth speaker playing music, they'll even let you change the music, turn it down or even turn it off if you want. The bathroom was very clean, had a cool automatic light as well as faucet water. The hand soap smelled good too. The office manager Mrs Gonzalez was competent in scheduling appointments and responding to emails. Shes nice, polite, soft spoken. Their Instagram is pretty cool and visually gives you some insight on what to expect. Oh yeah they do cupping, graston and from what I saw was ultra sound guided dry needling. Bettie's pretty good at feeling for the knots but it will be cool to see it in real time, meh. Alot of places in the d.c. region will give you a bunch of silly pictures or have some motionless photos that don't leave much to interpret. When you get to those places you ask yourself "what the".... Whether you're in need of a "touch up" from acute pain or in a slightly worse case of chronic or persistent pain. I wouldn't even waste my time looking around. I would just go to release PT especially compared to any other clinics/pts in the Maryland D.C area. I have some pretty not so nice things to say about other clinics.
Elisa Barnett
Elisa Barnett
Best physical therapist’s in the DC area!!! Personable, great staff, and an amazing massage therapist!!! Very clean & professional. Highly recommend!
Trip O'Connell
Trip O'Connell
I have had back and neck injuries for years, and the ladies at Release keep me in the game! They are miracle workers!

What is the best physical therapy for lower back pain?

Physical therapy is a proven and effective treatment for both mechanical and derangement lower back pain. It involves a series of treatments designed to relieve pain, improve mobility, and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. At Release Physical Therapy, we believe in a personalized approach to treatment. Each client is unique, and thus, every session is tailored to their specific needs, combining manual techniques and exercises. However, to provide a clearer understanding of our preferred treatments, we will further delineate them into categories for mechanical and derangement pain.

Lower Back Derangement Pain – Our favorite treatment is The McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) is a specialized physical therapy approach that is often used for treating derangement lower back pain. This method involves a series of exercises that aim to centralize or reduce the pain. The idea is to move the pain away from the extremities (like the legs) towards the back, where it is easier to manage. The McKenzie Method also emphasizes the importance of self-care and patient education. Patients are taught how to perform the exercises at home and how to adjust their postures and movements to prevent future episodes of back pain. This method has been shown to be particularly effective for patients with disc-related back pain.

Mechanical Lower Back Pain – Our favorite treatment is manual therapy. Manual therapy, including massage and dry needling, can be highly effective in treating lower back pain. Massage techniques, such as deep tissue and trigger point massage, work to relieve tension in the muscles and fascia, improving flexibility and reducing pain. They can also help to break up adhesions, promoting better circulation and healing. Dry needling, on the other hand, targets specific trigger points in the muscles, helping to release tightness and alleviate pain. This can also lead to improved muscle function and mobility. Overall, these manual therapy techniques can play a crucial role in managing lower back pain, enhancing the effectiveness of other treatments, and promoting a faster recovery.


How long does physical therapy take for lower back pain?

The duration of physical therapy for lower back pain can vary greatly depending on the severity of the pain, the underlying cause, and the individual’s overall health and fitness level. On average, a physical therapist might recommend 6 to 12 sessions over the course of 4 to 6 weeks for minor to moderate lower back pain. However, more chronic or severe conditions may require ongoing treatment over several months. It’s important to remember that everyone’s recovery timeline is different, and patience and consistency are key to achieving the best results. Regular home exercises and lifestyle modifications, as advised by the physical therapist, can also significantly speed up recovery and prevent future episodes of back pain.


Can a physical therapist fix lower back pain?

Physical therapy is often regarded as the most effective treatment for lower back pain due to its comprehensive approach. At Release Physical Therapy, we firmly believe in personalizing our sessions to each client. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, hence our therapists design individualized treatment plans based on the patient’s specific symptoms, pain levels, mobility issues, and overall health. This personalized approach ensures that the therapy addresses the root cause of the pain, rather than just managing the symptoms. Furthermore, we take a holistic approach to treatment. We do not just focus on the site of the pain but also address other factors that may be contributing to the pain, such as poor posture, muscle imbalances, and lifestyle habits. We aim to provide long-term relief from pain by addressing its underlying causes. Our treatment includes exercises and stretches that strengthen the back muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance posture, all of which help prevent future episodes of back pain.


How do I know if my lower back pain is a disc or a muscle? 

Determining the root cause of lower back pain can be complex, as both muscle and disc issues can present similar symptoms. However, there are certain characteristics that can help differentiate between the two.

Muscle-related back pain is often localized and can intensify with specific movements or activities. It can also cause referred pain in different areas due to trigger points, which are tight knots of muscle fibers that can form in muscles under stress. Our therapists are trained to identify referral patterns so they will be able to determine if your symptoms are coming from referred pain from trigger points.

Disc-related back pain, on the other hand, can also intensify with certain movements, particularly those involving bending or twisting. This type of pain often radiates down the legs and may be accompanied by numbness or tingling.

At Release Physical Therapy, our skilled therapists conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine the source of your pain. Our therapists will accurately diagnose the cause of your pain and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. Our goal is not only to relieve your pain but also to prevent it from recurring in the future.


What exercises should you avoid with lower back pain?

The types of exercises to avoid with lower back pain can vary greatly depending on the individual’s specific condition and symptoms. However, there are some general guidelines that can be helpful.

  1. High-impact exercises: Activities that involve a lot of jumping or running can put a lot of stress on the lower back and exacerbate pain.
  2. Heavy weightlifting: Lifting heavy weights, especially without proper form, can strain the lower back. 
  3. Twisting movements: Exercises that involve a lot of twisting of the spine, such as certain types of yoga poses, and tennis and golf swings, can potentially worsen lower back symptoms.

It’s important to note that while these exercises may need to be avoided during acute episodes of lower back pain, they may not necessarily need to be avoided forever. Once the pain has subsided, and with proper guidance and modifications, many people can reintroduce these activities into their routine gradually. 

At Release Physical Therapy, we can provide you with a personalized exercise program that takes into account your specific condition, symptoms, and fitness level. We can also teach you how to perform exercises correctly and safely to avoid exacerbating your lower back pain. Our goal at Release Physical Therapy is to get you back to doing what you want to do.

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What do physical therapists do for lower back pain?

Physical therapy can effectively alleviate symptoms of lower back pain as well as numbness and tingling, and help you return to the activities you love. At Release Physical Therapy, we employ a range of techniques to treat lower back pain, including McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), Posture and Ergonomic assessments, Graston Technique, Trigger Point Dry Needling, Active Release Techniques (ART), laser therapy, functional training, therapeutic exercises, and other specialized treatments. At Release, our physical therapists work closely with each patient, providing one-on-one attention to develop a personalized care and treatment plan


What is the best exercise for lower back pain?

The most effective exercises for physical therapy are determined by the nature of the injury and the specific needs and conditions of the patient. At Release Physical Therapy, each treatment is individualized to the client’s specific needs. However, as a general guideline, here’s what we typically recommend:

Derangement Lower Back Pain 

  • Disc-related issues: For conditions related to disc problems, we utilize the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) approach, which involves a series of repetitive movements to centralize or reduce pain and restore range of motion. This is followed by exercises aimed at improving core and hip stability, which can help support the spine and prevent future episodes of back pain.
  • Stenosis: For patients with stenosis, we focus on flexion-based exercises, which can help open up the spinal canal and relieve pressure on the nerves. We also incorporate core stability exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the spine.

Mechanical Lower Back Pain

  • Muscle strain: For patients who have experienced a muscle strain, we focus on deep core stability exercises some of our favorites are fall outs, fall outs with Theraband, marching, marching with Theraband, heel slides, heel slides with Theraband, bird dog, as well as hip stability exercises to strengthen the muscles and prevent further injury. We also incorporate mobility work to improve flexibility and range of motion.

    Check out the videos we’ve created to see how to perform all of these different exercises.


Should you rest or exercise with lower back pain?

At Release Physical Therapy, we believe in the importance of movement for managing lower back pain. While rest is important in the acute phase of an injury, prolonged inactivity can often exacerbate back pain and lead to further issues such as muscle weakness and stiffness. 

We encourage our patients to stay as active as possible, within their tolerance. This means engaging in gentle movements and exercises that do not exacerbate the pain. This could include walking, gentle stretching, or specific exercises prescribed by our therapists.


Is it better to go to a chiropractor or a physical therapist for lower back pain?

Both chiropractors and physical therapists can provide relief for lower back pain, but physical therapy is often recommended as the initial treatment. Physical therapists utilize a range of techniques and methods to alleviate lower back pain, enhance mobility, and strengthen the muscles of the lower back and core. They also offer guidance on posture and body mechanics to prevent future episodes of lower back pain. The goal of physical therapy is to tackle the underlying cause of the pain and provide enduring solutions, rather than just temporary relief.

At Release Physical Therapy, we understand the impact that lower back pain can have on your daily life. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping you alleviate this pain and improve your quality of life. If you’re currently experiencing lower back pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. You can schedule an appointment at either our West End/Foggy Bottom location, our downtown Washington, D.C. office, or our Tyson’s Corner office. To book an appointment, simply give us a call or book online. Contact us today and let us help you get back to doing the things you love to do pain-free!

We'll help you get back to work, back in the game, and back to doing the activities you love.

Release Physical Therapy


At Release Physical Therapy Washington, D.C., we offer a full range of manual therapies, as well as both traditional and non-traditional techniques. We work one-on-one with our patients to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets their unique needs, conditions, wellness goals and fitness levels. Learn More

Active Release Technique ® (ART)

Massage and movement-based technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.

K-Laser ® Therapy

The use of specific wavelengths of light to improve healing time, pain reduction, increase circulation and decrease swelling.

Trigger Point Dry Needling

Needle treatment that decreases pain, increases range of motion and improves strength by inactivating myofascial trigger points.

ASTYM ® Therapy

Regenerates healthy soft tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.), and eliminates or reduces unwanted scar tissue that may be causing pain or movement restrictions.

Kineseo ® Taping Method

Taping technique that reduces muscular pain and inflammation, relaxes overused muscles, improves posture and movement awareness and enhances performance.

Running Assessment

Individualized biomechanical analysis designed to identify strength, gait, and alignment imbalances to decrease risk of injury and improve your current training program.

Functional Training

Exercise regimens that integrate multiple muscle groups, joints and the brain to prepare the body for everyday movement, athletics and other specialized physical activities.

Graston Technique ®

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization used to address soft tissue lesions and fascial restrictions resulting in improved patient outcomes.

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)

Rehabilitation therapy and performance training technique using a Personalized Tourniquet System® designed for BFR, to reduce atrophy and increase strength.

Shockwave Therapy

A non-invasive, office based treatment that utilizes acoustic waves to alleviate pain, promote tissue regeneration, and accelerate the healing process.

Massage Therapy

Manual manipulation of the soft tissues including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints to relieve pain, improve circulation, and address specific musculoskeletal conditions.

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Physical Therapists

Our experienced and highly trained physical therapists specialize in treating the outpatient orthopedic population, including sports therapy, orthopedic/spinal therapy, chronic pain management, pre/post-surgical therapy, as well as wellness and prevention. All of our physical therapist are accepting new patients.

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What Patients Are Saying

What Patients Say

"Dr. Simon's knowledge, expertise and patience have given me my life back. She spent more time discussing my injuries and recovery than both my doctor and an orthopedist." - L.J.

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Health & Safety


At Release Physical Therapy, there is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our patients and staff during this unprecedented time. The Department of Homeland Security and state governments have deemed physical therapy an essential component of healthcare during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; therefore, our office will remain open to serve those in need. We are taking extensive preventative measures to protect our patients and employees who enter our clinic. Learn more

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Location & Hours

Hours of Operation

Monday-Thursday: 6am - 8pm
Friday: 6am - 5pm
Saturday: By appointment
Sunday: Office closed

Office Address

Release Physical Therapy
2134 L St NW, Washington, DC 20037

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Our Physical Therapists

Our experienced and highly trained physical therapists specialize in treating the outpatient orthopedic population, including sports therapy, orthopedic/spinal therapy, chronic pain management, pre/post-surgical therapy, as well as wellness and prevention. All of our physical therapists are accepting new patients.