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3 tips and tricks for back pain sufferers whilst exercising, from an expert!

An expert’s tips for exercising if you suffer from back pain!

If you suffer from a painful back, chances are you have been told that you should keep active or exercise more.  

Whilst this is true, often it doesn’t always go to plan.  If you have been out of action for a while with a “bad back” and you are trying to get back into exercise, this article is a must-read! 

***Disclaimer: Always get your back pain checked by a medical professional, physio or osteo to ensure that it is nothing serious, and their years of expertise often means it can save you months of frustration in trying to figure it out yourself or hoping it will get better by itself.***

Working in a sports injury and back pain clinic, we see lots of people who’s good intentions at moving more get derailed because of bad or incomplete advice.

Failing to take these things into consideration means you are more likely to aggravate your back, leaving you frustrated and in more pain than when you started.  

A sure-fire way to send you back to the couch.

By wanting to get straight back into exercise without taking into consideration your need to build strength can lead to frustration and further injury. 

Getting back into exercise can be done simply by using these tips to get you back moving while minimising the risk of re-injury, help you reach those fitness goals and help eliminate your back pain.

My top 3  tips on staying active if you’ve got a bad back


If you have been inactive for a while, your muscles and joints need to be warmed up gradually. 

    • Start with some walking or gentle cardio to get the heart pumping a little for 5-10 mins.   
    • Stretching the right muscles can help relieve some of the muscle spasms in your back and help decrease your pain.  Important muscles to stretch are the glutes, low back, mid-back, hip flexors, and hamstrings and calves. Some examples below.


    • Activate your glutes before exercise- either by calms glute bridges, etc. When your glutes are activated they take the pressure off your lower back and create more stability.

2. Get strong, incorporate some strength work into your life!

  • Start off lifting light weights. It may feel easy but lifting correctly with light weights is really important if you want to lift heavier weights. By lifting lighter weights to begin with it helps your body adjust and become stronger as well as reducing the risk of re-injury as less pressure goes through your back.
  •  Using poor technique can lead to injury. If you are not sure what the proper technique is, don’t be afraid to ask someone. We have a gym/pilates studio at our Brunswick and Fitzroy North locations to help people learn the correct technique.
  • The best exercises that we have found are those targeting the “posterior chain” ( however remember we are all different and the cause of your back pain is different from another person, so having a proper assessment and individualised exercise plan is the best approach).

3. Include a cooldown. 

Cooldowns help return your heart and breathing rate back to normal, help reduce delayed muscle onset soreness and has been shown to reduce injury. By doing some gentle range of motion exercises on the body parts you’ve just exercised along with some stretches you are well on your way to recovery. Featured below is one of my favourites a cat-cow stretch. 

You should feel good after a workout, I don’t mean that your pain has completely disappeared, but you should feel better than when you started.  If this is the case, keep going make it part of your daily routine.

If your back gets worse, then seek help. 

Don’t be afraid to see someone if your pain continues to get worse or doesn’t get better. 

We have expert osteopaths or physios at Premier Sports Medicine who can tailor your rehab program to exactly what you need, saving you time and frustration.  BOOK HERE NOW!

Written by Dr Caitlin Norman (Osteopath)

Over the past 5 years Caitlin has been helping people overcome back pain and letting them return to all forms of exercise. Aiding in changing their beliefs of what they are capable of doing! Caitlin believes people should not have to put up with back pain and with the right guidance and support even the most stubborn of cases can often be resolved! 

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