Exercise for Back Pain Relief

It actually sounds contradictory to patients when they are referred for physiotherapy to treat their back pain and exercise comes up as part of the therapy… Who does that?

Most times when you experience any form of pain in any part of your body the last thing you want to do is move the affected part, but that’s exactly what the physiotherapist wants you to do!

Do Exercises Relieve Back Pain?

The truth is carrying out the right movements will the right way are beneficial to healing, so back exercises do relieve back pain.
Research has proven that exercise is highly effective in the reduction of low back pain. The aim of the back exercise program given you by your physical therapist is for restoration of the strength and endurance of your back muscles. These back exercises also improve joint health, flexibility, blood circulation and relieve stress.

Back Exercises

Exercises that focus on the stability of the back also strengthen the core back muscles. The core back muscles also include deep abdominal muscles . These abdominal muscles can help to relieve back pain when in optimal condition.

Your core back muscles are also linked to your pelvic floor muscles, so its very likely that an exercises therapy program for back pain will include pelvic and lower limb exercises.

Endurance and strength training of the back muscles

In as much as there are numerous back exercises online recommended by many websites, you should still stick to those prescribed by your physiotherapist.
Your physiotherapist may decide to include strength and endurance exercises for the back depending on your presenting symptoms and diagnosis.

Here are some back exercises that help relieve back pain, increase muscle strength and also boost flexibility.
Exercises should be carried out gradually and are best done under the supervision of or with the approval of your physical therapist. She will ensure she regulates the frequency and intensity of the back exercises you are doing. This precaution ensures you don’t “over do” it as one of the side effects of exercise is muscle pain. If your muscles get overworked you’ll end up ” adding pain to the existing pain”.

Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on your back (face up) on a firm surface like an exercise mat.
  • Bend your two knees ensuring your feet are flat on the mat.
  • Tighten your tummy muscles while attempting to flatten the small of your back (lower back curve or lumbar curve) as if trying to press it against the mat. You can place your hand in that lumbar curve to monitor your contractions.
  • This action moves your pelvis as your pelvic muscles get contracted.
  • Hold this contraction while counting to five (5 seconds)
  • Repeat this action about 5 times.

Single Knee to Chest Stretch

  • While still in the same position, lying on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the mat, take your knee to your chest
  • Raise the first knee and pull gently with your arm to your chest till you feel the stretch.
  • Maintain that stretch for 5 seconds
  • Switch to the other knee and carry out the same knee to chest stretch. Maintain the contraction for 5 seconds
  • Repeat this stretch fives on each leg


  • In the same position, lying on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the mat, place your arms stretched out palm facing downwards on the mat.
  • Lift your pelvis off the mat higher than the shoulder level and tighten your stomach muscles.
  • Count to five then lower your pelvis gently to the mat.
  • Repeat this exercise 5 times.

Progression of these back exercises should be monitored by your physiotherapist.
If while carrying out any of these exercises you feel any discomfort or pain aside the initial pain you felt before commencing the exercises, stop immediately.
All back pain do not have the same causes or remedies, so your physical therapist is in the best position to guide you on what pain remedy is best for you.

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