Exercises for back pain
The best way to deal with back pain is to stay active and continue doing regular exercise.
The advice given 20 years ago was to rest, but research has shown that inactivity only makes things worse.
Staying active means continuing with regular day-to-day activities to avoid becoming sedentary.
Examples include walking to the shops rather than taking the car, getting off the bus a stop early, gardening, and taking the dog for a walk.
Your pharmacist can advise on which medication is best for you, depending on your personal circumstances.
Get more tips on looking after your back.
Exercises and activities
If your back pain is mild, try to exercise as well as maintaining an active lifestyle. You can do any activity that gives your body a good workout.
When choosing an activity, pick something you enjoy – that way, you're more likely to stick with it.
Ideally, your choice of activities should involve elements of endurance, as well as strength and flexibility.
For more low-impact exercise ideas, read our page on easy exercises.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. You may want to build up to this gradually over several weeks.
You could see your GP about your back pain to ask if you could get a referral for a group exercise programme.
Your GP may suggest combining an exercise programme with a course of manual therapy, such as massage or physiotherapy.
Manual therapy is a type of physiotherapy. It's especially helpful if your back is stiff and flexibility is an issue.
Your GP may also suggest a treatment package that combines an exercise programme and manual therapy and a course of psychological therapy.
This can help you understand your thoughts, feelings and actions. You'll learn techniques to alter the way you react to and cope with things, such as pain.
Psychological therapy won't necessarily make your lower back pain go away. But it may make it less intense and help you get back to work and doing your daily activities.
Page last reviewed: 31 March 2017
Next review due: 31 March 2020