We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Best Exercises for a Sore Back?

By Simone Lawson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are a variety of back exercises, and determining which are “best” for a given person or situation will largely depend on the cause and location of the soreness. Getting rid of upper back pain, for example, typically requires different exercises and approaches than does getting rid of lower back pain. Some of the best exercises for a sore back include basic stretching, maintaining good posture, and engaging in supported spinal twisting. Building abdominal muscles is also usually recommended, since the muscles of the core play a direct role in spine support. Incorporating a range of regular stretching into a daily or even weekly routine might also help prevent soreness in the first place, though much of this depends on the individual.

Identifying the Source of Soreness

One of the first things anyone should do when looking for a stretch to perform is to pinpoint where, exactly, the soreness seems to be originating. Ideally, a stretch will target the muscles that are cramped or tightened, and different movements can be best for different regions. The back is generally one of the largest surfaces on the body, and it usually involves a number of different muscle groups.

People are usually also smart to do some research into how, exactly, stretches should be done. Trainers and health experts sometimes offer demonstrations, and pictures in books and videos can also be helpful in this regard, too. When done properly, back exercises can be very helpful in alleviating back pain. When done incorrectly, however, they can actually exacerbate pain and may lead to greater problems. As a result, anyone suffering from serious back conditions should consult a health care professional about recommended exercises before beginning.

Basic Stretching

Basic stretching is one of the easiest ways to help alleviate a sore back. In fact, flexibility of the muscles surrounding the spine can help reduce the risk of injury and can help cure existing back soreness. If the back is feeling tense or sore, simply bending over and reaching for the toes can provide relief. Arching the back to either side with arms raised overhead is also helpful. It's important, however, not to overexert oneself, as that can cause new injuries. Light stretching and pulling a few times a day is usually the best course.

Focus on Posture

Maintaining proper posture can be really helpful, as well. In a way, this is a sort of stretch if a person’s relaxed posture actually exacerbates the pain. By stretching the back into a position of proper posture, people can help stretch the sore area and relieve some of the associated stiffness. Additionally, proper posture can help prevent future soreness.

Spinal Twist

Spinal twisting exercises may also prove useful. Twisting can be a gentle way to alleviate back soreness as well as providing a way to release and align the spine. This exercise may also aid in increasing flexibility, which is important to decreasing the risk of injury. Twisting too vigorously, quickly, or into extreme positions, however, can exacerbate existing back problems, or create new ones. As a result, it's important for people to engage in only subtle and gentle twisting, particularly at first.

Abdominal Exercises

Since the back is supported by the abdominal muscles, back strength and back health is usually closely related to the strength of the abdominal core. Regular abdominal strengthening exercises can therefore relieve and prevent soreness. It is especially important to perform exercises that strengthen a muscle group known as the transverse abdominals, as these are the deepest layers of muscle tissue and are most immediately responsible for spinal support.

Standard abdominal crunches and knee-to-elbow alternating crunches are both effective exercises for strengthening the oblique muscles and transverse abdominals. In turn, these help stretch and release tense back muscles. To get results, however, it's usually recommended that the exercises be performed consistently, at least every other day for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.

Incorporate Heat and Ice

If the back is very stiff and sore, it may be helpful to apply heat or ice to the region experiencing the most pain before attempting to perform any exercises. Choosing heat or ice is generally a personal preference, but some doctors may recommend particular temperatures for specific conditions. Once hot or cold temperature has been applied to the back, it may be easier to perform the exercises.

Role in Pain Prevention

Back exercises are not only important for relieving back soreness or stiffness, but they're also important in the preventing that pain from reoccurring. Building strong inner abdominal muscles will prevent additional episodes and may help to keep the condition from worsening. Maintaining proper posture, stretching and engaging in spinal twisting are also essential components to preventing sore back pain.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments

By panda2006 — On Jan 16, 2011

When I was a teenager I had a friend with fibromyalgia, and she taught me what might still be one of the best things I have learned for sore back treatment. Find a tennis ball or two, or something else of similar size, and while lying down place them under the knot on your back, wherever it is. Lie down flat long enough for it to start to really hurt, and then after that it will help realign your back and, at least for a little while, make the pain go away. It may not be a cure for long term problems, but it can be great for when you spend too much time in a day sitting or standing still or wake up with a crick in your back.

By sherlock87 — On Jan 15, 2011

When starting a stretch routine, be sure to start somewhat gradually. Many people try to fix their sore back causes through stretching and better posture only to make them worse by starting too much too soon, or not looking into it enough before starting.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.