Knowing what kind of exercises to do at the right stage of back pain you’re in, can be one of the most tricky parts of getting over back pain once and for all. If you’re in an acute phase of back pain where you’re struggling to do anything, or maybe your back pain doesn’t start to really bother you until you’ve been out and about walking for 15 minutes or during certain tasks throughout the day – what differing exercises would you do in either of those two cases? Today we’re going to talk to you about what phase you would fall into given the nature of your symptoms, and what the right form of exercise to do in that phase would be. Specific exercises for each stage can be found by signing up to our free membership area online at!

Phase 1: Acute Back Pain

The very first phase of a back problem is going to be the acute phase. This is where you’re probably struggling to get out of bed, you’re likely finding it very difficult to move around. You might be stuck downstairs unable to get upstairs or vice versa. This is probably likely to be a new flare-up of a back problem you’ve had for a number of weeks, months or years, or it could be a fresh injury. This is where your back is going to be at its most inflamed, so the main aim during this phase is achieving relief and getting that inflammation under control. We wouldn’t recommend at this stage doing any kind of weightlifting or running, and if you’re struggling to get out of bed then you may not be feeling quite up to those activities anyway.

The exercises you would do during this phase would be very minimal, mostly just getting to grips with properly engaging the core. This forms the foundation work for the two next phases, so will give you a great head start into those when you’re ready. Usually when you have a back problem, a lack of core strength and stability has left your lower back vulnerable, so starting to re-engage it again will be the focus. This isn’t going to consist of any core exercises such as planking or sit-ups – it’s going to be simply learning how to ‘switch it on’. Furthermore, improving the mobility in your hips is going to be very beneficial, as these can get especially tight when we spend a lot of time sitting down. You’ll also be recommended the lumbar disc stretch, as this will help to take pressure off the joints and muscles – although do note that this would not be suitable if you have a spondylolisthesis. You should be avoiding any exercises that have been recommended to you involving flexion, no knee hugs or any kind of bending forwards.

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Phase 2: Slow & Steady Improvements

You can move onto this type of phase if your back pain has eased to the point where you’re able to move around the house. You might start to struggle with your back pain after having been mobile for 15-20 minutes, but your tolerance for movement has improved from before. If you’re at this stage without having completed phase 1, do give the lessons a run-through to make sure you don’t miss out on any information, before moving on to phase 2. You may also be in this phase if moving around is comfortable but certain activities can leave you in a lot of pain.

During this phase, activities that start to strengthen the back and core are going to be most helpful to start improving the strength and stability of your body. At this point, we’ll be integrating bodyweight exercises to sensibly start challenging the muscles – making slow and steady steps towards improved back health and increasing the intensity to prepare you for the third phase. This phase can last between 1-2 months, but do avoid moving on or progressing the exercises here too fast and equally too slow. When you’re comfortably able to perform the exercises without irritating your spine over the following days, you’re able to move on.

Phase 3: Improving Strength With Resistance

This phase is closer to that of a healthy individual. You should be able to get out for a longer walk and your back pain might only bother you later on in the day, but otherwise you’re able to do everything you want to do. You may still not be able yet to start high impact exercises like running, and for that reason some patients can be as affected mentally at this stage from their pain pain as in phase 1, as they’re just not quite there yet. Continuing with slow and steady progress, you should be able to at this stage start integrating resistance training using bands or kettlebells and barbells, to challenge the body in more advanced ways. It can be tempting now that you’re starting to integrate these that you try to push yourself hard on these exercises, but your back may still be susceptible to re-injury even if you’re by now feeling much better. For that reason, you should complete the recommended repetitions and if you can comfortably do them, you know you can slightly increase the weight.

A person without back pain who might be looking for exercises to do that will keep their back healthy and prevent back pain, might also wish to join in at this phase as well. There would be a benefit in dabbling in the lessons phase 2 has to offer as well as this might reveal some weakness or stiffness you can work on and address, but you should be able to jump in at this point. Just don’t be caught into the trap of increasing resistance too quickly.

We hope you’ve found today’s article helpful! If you have any questions about this topic, then please do get in touch with us either via our social channels or by tuning in to our daily live streams on our Facebook and YouTube channels. To sign up to our free membership area where we go through Phases 1-3 with you in depth, including exercises, please visit!

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