Exercises for back pain

After any back problem, it's important to get movement and strength back. This supports tissue healing and will help you get moving again.

Posted by Avail Content
4 months ago

When doing exercise you should listen to your pain levels, especially in the early stages. You may find that these exercises increase your symptoms slightly in the beginning. However, they should get easier over time and, with regular practice, can help to improve movement in the back.

If the exercises do cause some discomfort then taking prescribed medication from your GP or pharmacist may help to keep you exercising.


The exercises in these videos are suitable for most people.


Please ensure you do these exercises in a safe environment. Only try these exercises if you are feeling well enough.


If you start to feel unwell stop these exercises immediately.

If this is the first time you have attempted these exercises please read the information below before starting.


You should do this exercise lying down. A good place to do this exercise is on your bed.

Rolling the knees from one side and to the other is one repetition.


  1. Begin lying down with your knees pointing towards the ceiling. Slowly roll your knees to the right.
  2. Hold for a few seconds and then raise the knees so that they are pointing towards the ceiling                again.

3. Repeat on the opposite side


How to tell if you’re exercising at the right level



This guide can help you to understand if you’re exercising at the right level. It’ll also let you see how much pain or discomfort is acceptable.

It can be helpful to rate your pain out of 10 (0 being no pain 10 being the worst pain you have ever had), for example:


  • 0 to 3 - minimal pain
  • 4 to 5 - acceptable pain
  • 6 to 10 - excessive pain

Pain during exercise



Aim to keep your pain within a rating of 0 to 5. If your pain gets above this level, you can change the exercises by:


  • reducing the number of times you do a movement
  • reducing the speed of a movement
  • increasing rest time between movements

Pain after exercise



Exercise should not make your existing back pain worse overall. However, practicing new exercises can sometimes cause short term muscle pain as the body gets used to moving in new ways. This kind of pain should ease quickly and your pain should be no worse the morning after you’ve exercised.


How many and how often



You should add exercises into your routine gradually to help your back pain.



Movement exercises



Repetitions are how often you do a single movement. When starting new exercises, it can be helpful to do 2 to 3 repetitions at a time.

It’s better to do small amounts throughout the day. For example, practise your repetitions every hour.

As this gets easier, and if you feel able to, add 1 or 2 repetitions to your movements every few days.

As you become able to do more repetitions, it can be helpful to break things up into sets. This means you could do more repetitions at a time but you’ll do them less often throughout the day. For example:


  1. Do 8 repetitions.
  2. Rest for a minute.
  3. Repeat another set of 8 repetitions.
  4. Repeat this 2 to 3 times a day.

Over time you can try to increase the number of repetitions you do. You should aim for a maximum of 2 sets of 15.


Stretching exercises



The aim of a stretch is to hold a position for a longer period of time. Over time this can help to improve your range of movement.

When doing the exercise you should be able to feel a gentle stretch. This shouldn’t be sore or uncomfortable.

You should try to hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds if possible.

Try to focus on doing sets of exercises. For example, do 2 to 3 sets of stretches. Aim to do this 2 to 3 times a day.

As you do more stretching you should feel your range of movement improve and you’ll be able to stretch further.

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/muscle-bone-and-joints/exercises/exercises-for-back-pain

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Exercises for back pain

Last updated 4 months ago

When doing exercise you should listen to your pain levels, especially in the early stages. You may find that these exercises increase your symptoms slightly in the beginning. However, they should get easier over time and, with regular practice, can help to improve movement in the back.

If the exercises do cause some discomfort then taking prescribed medication from your GP or pharmacist may help to keep you exercising.


The exercises in these videos are suitable for most people.


Please ensure you do these exercises in a safe environment. Only try these exercises if you are feeling well enough.


If you start to feel unwell stop these exercises immediately.

If this is the first time you have attempted these exercises please read the information below before starting.


You should do this exercise lying down. A good place to do this exercise is on your bed.

Rolling the knees from one side and to the other is one repetition.


  1. Begin lying down with your knees pointing towards the ceiling. Slowly roll your knees to the right.
  2. Hold for a few seconds and then raise the knees so that they are pointing towards the ceiling                again.

3. Repeat on the opposite side


How to tell if you’re exercising at the right level



This guide can help you to understand if you’re exercising at the right level. It’ll also let you see how much pain or discomfort is acceptable.

It can be helpful to rate your pain out of 10 (0 being no pain 10 being the worst pain you have ever had), for example:


  • 0 to 3 - minimal pain
  • 4 to 5 - acceptable pain
  • 6 to 10 - excessive pain

Pain during exercise



Aim to keep your pain within a rating of 0 to 5. If your pain gets above this level, you can change the exercises by:


  • reducing the number of times you do a movement
  • reducing the speed of a movement
  • increasing rest time between movements

Pain after exercise



Exercise should not make your existing back pain worse overall. However, practicing new exercises can sometimes cause short term muscle pain as the body gets used to moving in new ways. This kind of pain should ease quickly and your pain should be no worse the morning after you’ve exercised.


How many and how often



You should add exercises into your routine gradually to help your back pain.



Movement exercises



Repetitions are how often you do a single movement. When starting new exercises, it can be helpful to do 2 to 3 repetitions at a time.

It’s better to do small amounts throughout the day. For example, practise your repetitions every hour.

As this gets easier, and if you feel able to, add 1 or 2 repetitions to your movements every few days.

As you become able to do more repetitions, it can be helpful to break things up into sets. This means you could do more repetitions at a time but you’ll do them less often throughout the day. For example:


  1. Do 8 repetitions.
  2. Rest for a minute.
  3. Repeat another set of 8 repetitions.
  4. Repeat this 2 to 3 times a day.

Over time you can try to increase the number of repetitions you do. You should aim for a maximum of 2 sets of 15.


Stretching exercises



The aim of a stretch is to hold a position for a longer period of time. Over time this can help to improve your range of movement.

When doing the exercise you should be able to feel a gentle stretch. This shouldn’t be sore or uncomfortable.

You should try to hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds if possible.

Try to focus on doing sets of exercises. For example, do 2 to 3 sets of stretches. Aim to do this 2 to 3 times a day.

As you do more stretching you should feel your range of movement improve and you’ll be able to stretch further.

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/muscle-bone-and-joints/exercises/exercises-for-back-pain