Exercises for back pain

These exercises can help to get you moving normally, and safely, if you have back pain. To feel the most benefit, combine any, or all, of these exercises with walking regularly at a comfortable pace.

How many and how often

Start by doing 5 repetitions of each exercise, 3 times a day. Add an extra 1 or 2 repetitions every few days as long as you feel comfortable.

When to stop

Stop these exercises if they make your symptoms worse, or cause new pain.

If your symptoms don't improve after 2 weeks, phone the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Helpline (only available in some health board regions).

If this service isn't available in your area, speak to your GP to find out if you can refer yourself to a local MSK service.

Rolling your knees (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KiDNXX21fA)

You should do this exercise while lying down.

With your knees bent, and feet on the floor:

  1. Slowly roll your knees to the left and hold for 2 seconds
  2. Return to center
  3. Slowly roll your knees to the right and hold for 2 seconds
  4. Return to center

Rolling your knees from left to right is one repetition.

Tilting your pelvis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntDKqFCMjHQ)

You should do this exercise while lying down.

With your knees bent, and feet on the floor:

  1. Press your back against the floor and hold for 2 seconds
  2. Release your back and relax 

Pressing and releasing your back is one repetition.

Good posture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yPlAivN0KA)

You should do this exercise while sitting down.

With your knee bent, and feet on the floor:

  1. Sit up as straight as you can, letting your shoulders drop forwards a little
  2. Hold for as long as is comfortable and then relax

Holding and then relaxing this posture is one repetition.

Back bends (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ppWlDw26mo)

You should do this exercise while standing up.

With your back and legs straight, and feet shoulder width apart:

  1. Slowly bend backwards, supporting your back with your hands
  2. As you increase the stretch, work into the movement to loosen off your back
  3. Hold for as long as is comfortable and then return to standing

Bending backwards then returning to standing is one repetition.

Back bend from lying (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVwV0LWgP28)

You should do this exercise while lying down.

While lying face down with you hands at shoulder height:

  1. Slowly straighten your elbows and lift your chest as far up as you can
  2. Keep your pelvis and legs relaxed throughout this movement
  3. Hold for as long as it comfortable and then relax

Lifting and lowering your chest is one repetition.