Tips for pain-free fitness

When you have low back pain, before starting any new exercise routine, it’s important to have a chat to a health care professional to discuss the most appropriate type and level of physical activity for you. Your general practitioner (GP) can provide you with advice on exercises for flexibility, strength and stability. You can also speak with a physiotherapist, orthopaedic specialist or a sports medicine specialist.

Getting the right balance of activity is important too – while being out of shape contributes to bad posture and pain, pushing yourself too hard can result in injury. It is recommended to increase your fitness gradually, starting slowly by walking, cycling or swimming for 20-30 minutes each day.* Don't forget to listen to your body every step of the way and to follow the advice of your healthcare professional.

Get ready before you start

To establish a regular exercise routine at home, choose a time of day that suits you and dedicate that time to your body. Find a comfortable spot, and wear clothes that allow you to move freely.

The following five exercises can help with improving strength and relieving pain, so give them a try and take note of any changes in your body. Just be sure to start slowly and don’t over-extend yourself and if you're not sure if these activities are suitable for you, always consult your doctor or physical therapist.

Planks

Planks are great for strengthening the muscles that stabilise the spine. Start out lying on your stomach, then prop yourself up onto your elbows and toes. Keep your whole body – head, back, buttocks and legs – in a straight line. Hold for a short time then let yourself down carefully.

Knee rolls

This exercise stretches and mobilises the spine. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your knees together and roll them to one side, allowing your pelvis to follow the movement. Remember to keep both shoulders on the floor. Hold the stretch for one breath before returning to the start position and repeating. With this exercise you can alternate sides, but only move as far as is comfortable for your body.

Back arches

Gentle back arches are designed to strengthen the lower-back muscles. To start, lie on your stomach with your legs together. Prop yourself up on your elbows and slightly arch your back, so you feel a gentle stretch in the stomach muscles. Hold for a short time, and then repeat.

Knees to chest

Simple but effective, this exercise can help with muscle strength and lower-back pain. To start, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently bring one knee and slowly pull it towards your chest, keeping your lower back against the floor. Hold this position for a few breaths. Release and repeat using the other knee.

Pelvic tilts

Pelvic tilts can assist with strength and flexibility. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently flatten your lower back against the floor by tightening your stomach muscles. Now tilt your pelvis slightly forward and hold for a short time before repeating.

Create your own exercise routine

These five exercises are a great way to help relieve back pain. However, everyone is different when it comes to pain. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you design an exercise routine that’s right for you.