What Back Exercises Can I Do For Back Pain?

Patients often ask their therapist, what back exercises can I do for low back pain?

By: Jon Stiffler, PTA, CPT, PES

Many patients with back pain try to avoid physical activities due to fear that their condition might get worse or that they may re-injure themselves. This fear results in limited physical activities - either staying in bed or at least stopping any activity that is at all strenuous. 

While this approach is understandable and may even be recommended in the short term particularly during an acute episode, when done more than a day or two, it can actually undermine healing. 

Instead, active forms of back exercises are almost always necessary to rehabilitate the spine and help alleviate back pain. To understand and appreciate the benefits of back exercises in the management of back pain, let us first understand some basic information about the spine. 

We perform almost all of our daily activities in the upright position (i.e., sitting and standing). Our muscles (the core and deep back extensors) and ligaments support the spine and they provide the stability needed by the spine to maintain its position throughout the day.  That is why it is so important to do some back exercises which will strengthen your core everyday!

Best Back Exercises for back pain. 
Best Back Exercises for back pain. 


When the ligaments and muscles are weak, they are unable to hold the spine in good alignment. As a result, the ligaments get stretched and this causes pain. 

The muscles will try to help, but if the muscles are not strong, they soon weaken and add to the pain by displaying a mild cramp due to fatigue. The best way to alleviate the pain is to get to the cause - and that is, weak ligaments and muscles. 

Strengthening for Back Pain

Muscles are strengthened by exercising them properly. When muscles are strengthened, it will allow the ligaments that are overstretched to heal and recover by taking the stress from them. 

This is the main reason why strengthening back exercises are very important for back pain, and when done in a controlled, gradual, and progressive manner, active back exercises distribute nutrients into the disc space and soft tissues in the back to keep the discs, muscles, ligaments and joints healthy. To learn more about the anatomy of the back, click here to watch an animated video.

Stretching for Back Pain or Lower Back Stretch

There are numerous benefits to stretching the musculature and ligaments in the lower extremities, pelvic girdle, and spine. Most everyone will sustain a healthier lifestyle by improving mobility of these tissues. 

Soft tissue restriction in these areas contributes to increased stress and restriction in the spine, which overtime can complicate or increase neck or back pain. In stretching the musculature and ligaments of the lower back, the increase in motion will result in sustained relief of back pain.

There are many things to keep in mind with regards to stretching for back pain. When stretching, wear loose comfortable clothes that allow for easy movement. Stretching should be pain free. There should never be stretching into any sharp intense pain. When stretching, move into the position slowly.

There should never be any quick, jarring movements into a stretch, as these quick movements can cause injury. Always stretch on a flat surface with enough area to move freely. Stretches should always be held for a long static duration rather than short time. It has been proven clinically the benefit of static stretching.

Although there are many benefits of stretching in regards to back pain, you should always contact a physician regarding your neck or back pain prior to beginning any stretching program to determine which stretches should or should not be done. The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Physicians and Therapists can help.  Call JOI-2000.  If you want to learn more about low back pain, go to: https://www.joionline.net/trending/content/low-back-pain


To schedule an appointment or Telehealth Visit with a JOI Spine Specialist, please call JOI-2000, schedule online or click below. 


Skip to content