Exercises for Back Pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Exercises for Back Pain


When you have back pain, then you have to look at a range of treatment options as part of your back pain management. Exercises should be one of those option. Exercises specifically for Back Pain relief are great, when used to prevent and cure back pain under the guidance of a chartered physiotherapist.

So before we start looking at the type of exercises to help back pain, we should be aware that

In summary, a balance between strong and flexible muscles around the core area of your body and legs helps improve postural alignment and subsequently prevents and eases back pain.

Muscle Strength.

Muscles are the spine’s primary defence against the effects of gravity. Gravitational influence compresses the spine and often with time leads to biomechanical back pain. Strengthening the muscles that support the spine with back strengthening exercises can prevent, ease and eventually eliminate back pain.

Balance is the key word.

Strong abdominal muscles, especially the deep abdominal muscles are equally as important as strong back muscles for supporting the lower back thus preventing lower back pain. Strong thigh muscles are important in preventing back injuries when moving and lifting. A correct lifting technique involve using your legs and if your leg muscles are weak you can end up compensating with your back muscles, causing pain.

Shortened Muscles. Shortened muscles are a primary cause of low back pain. Muscles become shortened around the pelvic area due to excessive sustained postures, most commonly seen in people who adopt the same sitting posture for long hours in each day. Shortened muscles effect the alignment of the spine and over time, lead to back pain. Back stretching exercises - especially Lower Back Stretches - lengthen shortened muscles and help relieve back pain. Tight muscles that contribute to low back pain are: gluteal buttock muscles, hamstring muscles and quadriceps muscles. Through stretching these muscles the alignment of the spine improves and a secondary effect of stretching muscles involves mobilising the joints over which they lie, which further improves spinal function.

Exercises for Back Pain. For ease of understanding I am going to divide back exercises into two categories.

Firstly there is Immediate post injury exercises and Core conditioning programming which I have included in Sample Back Pain Exercises.

Secondly, from my experience as a chartered physiotherapist and Pilates instructor over the years, I have commonly seen people who tend push themselves too far when starting strengthening exercises for their back. Back pain caused by doing too much too soon, can do further long term damage to your back. Strengthening of your back is a slow process - and I have found that these Pilates sample exercises to be very effective in regaining strong muscles in your back.

I have found that Yoga for Back Pain relief can also be an effective way of restoring strength to the back - but needs to approached with some caution. People also often ask me “what is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?”

Also, while not technically a set of “exercises” - I have found that The Alexander Technique offers a powerful “education system” for the body and mind - helping with posture and overall stress levels around the body - thus helping with the prevention of back pain.

Finally, there are also a number of running health benefits that can work to strengthen your back over time.


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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