BACK PAIN - Pennine GP Training
Information and Exercise Sheet (HO13)
The following exercises should be started gently and increased gradually, and you should not
try to push hard to get rid of pain. A little discomfort is common when starting a new activity
or exercise, especially if you have not been active for some time, as your joints and muscles get
used to working again. Try each exercise in turn and find out how many times you can repeat it
without feeling extra discomfort the following day. If you are not sure, try each one 5–10 times to
start with. As your back gets used to the new exercise, you should gradually increase the number
of times you do the exercise. If you are lucky, you may find a particular exercise eases your pain.
If so, you should do more of this exercise and can use it as ‘first aid’.
Sometimes you may experience a ‘flare-up’ or marked increase in pain. This can happen whether
you exercise or not. For a couple of days you may be happier reducing the amount you exercise,
but try not to stop completely. As the pain eases, try and build back up to the previous level quite
1. Hugging knees to chest
Lying on your back with bent knees, lift
one leg and hold on to it with one hand
and then lift and hold the other leg. Pull
both knees gently closer to your chest, hold
for a count of 5, then relax your arms but
don’t let go completely. Repeat the hug
and relax. Some people prefer to hug one
knee at a time.
2. Leg stretches
Lying on your back with your knees bent,
lift one knee and hold your thigh with both
hands behind the knee. Gently straighten
the knee that you are holding and hold for
a count of 5. Repeat with the opposite leg.
‘Hands On’ October 2007 No 13. Medical Editor: Louise Warburton. Production Editor: Frances Mawer (arc).
Published by the Arthritis Research Campaign, Copeman House, St Mary’s Court, St Mary’s Gate
Chesterfield S41 7TD. Registered Charity No. 207711.
3. Half push-ups
Lie on your front on a firm surface, with
your hands under your shoulders, palms
down. Look up and push up, lifting your
head and shoulders up with your arms.
Keep your hips on the floor. Hold for a
count of 5 and then gently lower yourself
back down. To start with, you may not
be able to lift your shoulders far. As you
become more flexible, work towards trying
to straighten your arms, still keeping your
hips on the floor.
4. Knee rolls
Lying on your back with bent knees, let
your knees roll to one side, keeping your
knees and feet together. Stay to one side
for a count of 5 and then roll to the other
5. Arching and hollowing
Start on all fours, hands under shoulders,
knees under hips. Arch your back upwards,
letting your head drop, and hold for a count
of 5. Then reverse this posture: lifting your
head and looking up, relax your tummy
and stick your behind out, holding for a
count of 5.
This ‘Information and Exercise Sheet’ can be downloaded as html or a PDF file from the Arthritis Research Campaign
website ( and follow the links to ‘Hands On’ No 13).
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