Best Exercises for Back Pain

Shea takes a biomechanical approach to our next request

One of the most frequent comments I get from gym members and personal training clients is “I have to be careful as I suffer with back pain,” 90% of these individuals do not show any major biomechanical errors or injuries. The reason for the majority of back pain that people experience is weakness in the back and supporting muscles, which in turn leads to poor movement in the gym and in day to day life.

Whether it’s office work, manual labour or carrying the kids around, modern life puts a lot of strain on our backs, and if we don’t look to address this it can lead to implications for our body now and in later life. Currently as I write this I’m slouched over a desk with my shoulders rolled forward and upper back curved, we see this position a lot now with the use of laptops, mobile phones, and game consoles. If we do not look to correct this position, we ultimately develop impingements not just for our back but also other surrounding joints.

The best exercises for resolving back pain involve developing the posterior chain and working on anti-rotation and anti-extension. Some of the best movements to include in your training to address these areas are Romanian Deadlifts, Hyper Extensions, Reverse Hypers, Glute Bridges (Hip Thrusts), Deadbugs, Palloff Presses and Anterior/Posterior holds. By using these exercises, we can strengthen our hamstrings, glutes, core and lower back without applying too much stress into our concerned area. Coupling these exercises with stretches for the upper chest, upper back, glutes, hip flexors and hamstrings and we can start to allow the body to move efficiently and correctly.

Biomechanically there are three postures that are commonly seen with the development of back pain; Kyphosis, Lordosis and Scoliosis. These three postures can be genetic, however generally these postures develop over time.

The most commonly seen of the three in today’s world is Kyphosis. Kyphosis is the curvature of the spine that causes the top of the back to appear more rounded than normal, it is becoming increasingly common due to the use of smart phones, consoles, and desk jobs.

Lordosis is an excessive inward curve of the spine usually seen in the lower section. This is commonly seen in woman who are pregnant or post-natal, however it is becoming more common with rising levels of obesity.

Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine has a sideways curve, this can be the most problematic, and does not usually develop over time but is instead a genetic condition and it is always best to speak to your doctor about this before taking any further action.

Along with the development of biomechanical positions, we have to be aware that we can either reinforce, or counteract, these positions with muscular development. If we train incorrectly then back pain will occur not just in our training but also in our daily life.

To address Kyphosis we need to develop many areas but most important is the upper back. A favourite exercise of mine and my clients which targets the upper back is the Chest Supported Dumbbell Row. Using an incline bench, you can adopt an incline, almost prone, lying position on the bench and focus on your posture and scapula retraction to aid the development of upper back strength. This will help you increase the strength and stability in your upper back and address issues relating to Kyphosis.

Exercises which address Lordosis all strengthen the lower back and core. My favourite exercise for this is the Deadbug. The Deadbug is considered an anti-extension core movement which will help develop pelvic and core control. To perform this exercise, lie flat on the ground with legs and arms in the air. Focus on keeping your lower back in contact with the ground and slowly extend the opposite arm and leg (e.g. right arm, left leg) simultaneously down towards the ground until fully extended and then repeat with the alternate arm and leg.

Yoga is another hugely beneficial activity to include in your weekly training as this will address the flexibility issues which can occur with back pain and allow you to learn movements and flows which can aid your development for gym sessions and exercise.

If you suffer from back pain or would like to speak to Shea about any other fitness, Olympic Weightlifting or sport specific goal you can contact him on 07837668160, email him at or head over to Our Team page for more information.