10 Simple Exercises to Avoid Back Pain

  • man-performing-pull-ups-outside
    Make Time to Move
    You may not always feel like taking the time to exercise, but it’s been proved to help prevent back pain. If you do just 15 minutes of back exercises three times a week, you’ll go a long way toward strengthening your back, neck, and shoulder muscles. You’ll also be more flexible and less likely to injure your back. The exercises in the following slides are intended specifically to prevent back pain. You should talk with your doctor before you start any new exercise routine.



  • Woman in bathroom feeling back of calf in leg
    Flex Your Foundation
    To do ankle pumps:

  • Lie flat on your back.

  • Flex your ankles so your toes point toward you and then away from you.

  • Repeat for a total of 10 times.



  • Young Caucasian woman lying flat on mat
    Bend Those Knees!
    To do heel slides:

  • Lie flat on your back.

  • Bend one knee, keeping your heel on the floor.

  • Return to the starting position and alternate legs.

  • Repeat for a total of 10 times.



  • Press It Flat
    Press It Flat
    To do a pelvic tilt:

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees. Put your feet flat on the floor at hip width. Bring your knees closer together than your feet. Put your arms next to your sides.

  • Flatten your back against the floor.

  • Hold the position for several seconds.

  • Repeat for a total of five times.



  • Give Yourself a Hug
    Give Yourself a Hug
    To pull your knees to chest:

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees. Put your feet flat on the floor with your arms next to your sides.

  • Raise your knees together and pull them to your chest with your arms.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Lower one leg to the floor and then the other.

  • Repeat for a total of five times.



  • Sit a Spell
    Sit a Spell
    To do wall squats:

  • Stand with your back against the wall.

  • Take small steps so that your feet are 12 inches away from the wall.

  • Hold your stomach muscles and gradually bend your knees as you slide down the wall.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Slowly straighten your legs and return to a standing position.

  • Repeat for a total of 10 times.



  • Keep Legs Limber
    Keep Legs Limber
    To do the hamstring stretch:

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees.

  • Hold one leg up with your hands behind your knee.

  • Straighten your leg until you can feel a stretch in the large muscle in the back of your thigh (the hamstring).

  • Hold for 20 seconds.

  • Relax and perform the same stretch on the other leg.

  • Repeat for a total of five times on each side.



  • Stretch Your Backside
    Stretch Your Backside
    To do the piriformis stretch:

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees.

  • Cross one leg on top of the other.

  • Pull your lower leg toward you from behind the knee until you feel a stretch in your backside.

  • Hold for 20 seconds.

  • Relax and perform the same stretch on the other leg.

  • Repeat for a total of five times on each side.



  • Physical Therapy Exercise for Lower Back
    Hold That Angle
    To do the the pelvic lift:

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees. Put your feet flat on the floor at shoulder width with your arms next to your sides.

  • Bring your hips off the floor slowly but don’t arch your back. See if you can make your body form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Slowly lower your hips to the floor.

  • Repeat for a total of five times.



  • Lift that Leg
    Lift That Leg
    To do a leg reach:

  • Choose an open space for this exercise.

  • Begin on your hands and knees, looking down at the floor.

  • Holding your body taut, slowly extend one leg straight out behind you.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat for a total of five times on each side.



  • Roll Over, Beethoven!
    Roll Over, Beethoven!
    To do the Swiss ball stabilizing exercise:

    For this exercise, you’ll need one of those large rubber Swiss balls that you’ve probably seen at a gym.

  • Roll onto the ball on your stomach.

  • Using your hands, walk your body along the ball until the ball is under your legs.

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat for a total of five times.



  • 10 Simple Exercises to Avoid Back Pain
    Back Pain

    About The Author

    1. “Low Back Pain Exercise Guide.” Your Orthopaedic Connection, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, July 2007; accessed June 10, 2009. (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00302);
    2. “Back Exercises.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, March 2008; accessed June 10, 2009. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/backexercises/htm/index.htm);
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    Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
    Last Review Date: 2019 May 20
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