Exercises for Back Pain


What are the best exercises for back pain?

The best exercises for back pain are the ones you can easily commit to doing every day. Evidence suggests that exercising regularly is beneficial for people with low back pain. Moreover, research shows that becoming sedentary is proven to worsen things!
As a result, staying active and carrying on with day-to-day activities tends to improve pain outcomes. Even during times where you must stay at home, you can still exercise by watching online videos.
Therefore, we recommend that you start with only 5 simple exercises that you can commit to.  Just get moving.

Here are 5 easy Pilates exercises for back pain that will help you mobilise and strengthen your spine. Do them every day for 2 weeks before progressing to more advanced exercises

The NHS recommends people with mild back pain to try to exercise and try to continue to maintain an active lifestyle. Hence, your exercise regime should include a combination of endurance, strength and flexibility. Pilates group classes have proven to be effective in helping people manage their pain.

Pilates exercises are widely prescribed for back pain sufferers. The goal of the exercises are on focusing on mobilising the spine, rebalancing the muscles around the joints of the whole body emphasising of core strength. In addition, Pilates offers great exercise programming options for back pain and provides infinite number of modifications for injuries.

Joseph Pilates once said “If you are stiff at 30 and out of shape you’re old. If at 60 you’re supple and strong, you’re young”

Here’s our top choice “5 easiest” Pilates exercises for back pain. These pics will help you gently mobilise your spine and strengthen your core.
Furthermore, these exercises target all spinal movements in all planes.

The Hip Roll

The aim of this exercise is to mobilise your lower back segmentally into flexion and to strengthen your gluteus, hamstrings and spinal muscles.

Exercises for back pain hip rolls

Start on your back, neutral spine, feet hip distance apart, make sure that you are tracking hip, knee and ankles

Exercises for back pain hip roll

Initiate flexion by sending the tailbone under the sit bones and peal your pelvis and spine off the mat

Exercises for back pain bridge

Roll your hips off the mat and sequentially to create a shoulder bridge

  • Tip: avoid hyper extending lower back by popping ribs out. Certainly, your hips should lift to maximum hip extension while your ribcage stays connected and managed. Roll up and down through the centre of your spine avoiding wobbling or shifting during movement.

Spinal Rotations 

Controlled spinal rotations can help stretch the tight muscles in your back, such as your QL, while mobilising the restricted segments in your spine. Especially the stiffer thoracic spine.


Start by cradling your neck with your lower hand. See lift under your lower ribcage

Exercises for back pain rotation2

Breathe in and turn your head and body to the ceiling

Exercises for back pain rotation3

Breathe out and rotate torso and head as if you lye on mat behind you.

  • Tip: keep your abdominal muscles active in order to support your lower back.
    Even more, feel the stretch, inhale to stay and exhale to return to starting position.
    Add a small weight, such as a toning ball for exercise progression.

The Abdominal Prep

This exercise should place no stresses on the lower back if done correctly.

Exercises for back pain ab prep

Flex your upper and middle back maintaining pelvis and lower back in neutral. Slower is better

  • Tip: the key is to maintain your lower back and pelvis in a neutral alignment throughout, avoiding flattening your lower back on the ground. Above all, maintaining the natural lumbar curve, as when standing, you are mobilising the thoracic spine and stretching the posterior fascia.

Extension Prone

Extensions are great for your spine, especially thoracic ones. If you work in flexion you must extend in order to rebalance the muscles on your spine. Try this simple exercise to improve the mobility in your upper back.

Start facing down in a neutral spinal alignment. Your hands are in line with your shoulders and not pushing against the ground. Instead, they are just resting by your sides.

Exercises for back pain

Starting position. Arms light on floor. Breathe in to prepare…then

Exercises for back pain 1

Breathe out and extend your middle and upper back keeping your lumbar spine in neutral. Hold a few seconds, then exhale to release down.

Exercises for back pain extension prone

Modification, spine in a long line, avoiding thoracic extension, while strengthening spinal extensor muscles.

Exercises for back pain extension prone

Progression, spine in a long line, with arms under forehead adding weight, longer lever.

Repeat 10 times.

  • Modify if your upper back is excessively flexed and you can’t come off the mat, in which case you can prop yourself up onto a box or a bench.

The Side Bends

Side bending is the first spinal movement that we tend to lose with ageing and stiffness. Therefore, maintaining your lateral flexion is key to keeping your spine supple and mobile.

Side Bends

Seated on one side, knees bent, stacked, keep heals towards bottom, scapulae stabilised. Inhale to prepare…then

Exercises for back pain

Exhale to lift onto your body into a side bend onto your knee, arm overhead without covering your face

Side Bend

Modification seated, avoiding kneeling

Remember to initiate by contracting your abdominal muscles before you move with every exercise.

Why are these exercises good for me?

Stabilise the give, and Mobilise the restriction

One of the most important things or good spinal movement when it comes to exercises for back pain is to stabilise the give and move the restriction. This means that some segments of your spine will be restricted and some will  be hyper mobile. Consequently, you want to stabilise by strengthening the weak areas and move the tight ones.
In the spine typically the mid-upper back tends to be less mobile because of the attachment of the ribcage to the spinal itself. On the other hand, the lower back tends to be more mobile and less stable.
It is advocated that by strengthening the core muscles you are supporting the lower back. At the same time, by mobilising your mid-upper back you can take pressure off your low back.