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Stretches, Exercises and Other Tips to Help You Deal with Back Pain


By Sarah Parker Ward

From knots to muscle spasms, lower back pain can put a real wrinkle in your day. In fact, it’s one of the most common medical problems in the U.S., in part because it can affect almost anyone at any age. But let’s focus on the silver lining! Lower back pain can be managed at home with a few simple exercises and preventative steps.

Exercises for back pain

It’s important to note that if your back pain is severe and doesn’t improve, or if it causes weakness or numbness in the legs, you should immediately contact a doctor.

Back Pain Tips

If you really want to avoid back pain – and we all do – the best place to start is by educating yourself. First, learn what not to do, like regularly wearing unsupportive footwear such as high heels, slumping your shoulders, and frequently carrying heavy handbags.

Then, laser in on preventative steps you can take to help minimize your risk of back pain. Stretches, exercises and sleep positioning can have a big impact on how well your back handles stress. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional before starting or changing any exercise regimen.

Have a sore spot? BENGAY® is the No. 1 doctor-recommended OTC brand for topical pain relief.


Stretching the muscles and ligaments in your lower back is a great way to help prevent and care for lower back pain because stretching improves muscle extension to help reduce stiffness and improve range of motion. (remember: lift with your legs!). Strive to stretch at least once a day every day.


Knee-to-Chest Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Slowly hug one knee at a time to your chest, holding for at least five seconds. Then hug both knees to your chest at the same time.

Shoulder blade squeeze:

Shoulder blade squeeze

While seated upright, gently pull your shoulder blades toward one another and hold for five seconds before relaxing.


Cat stretch

Create a table with your body, placing your palms and knees on the ground. Slowly round your back upwards, hold for five seconds, and then release to a flat back.

Back Pain Relief Exercises

Exercises for back pain

Prone to back pain? Steer clear of intense workouts like weight lifting. Gentler back pain exercises like swimming, yoga and Pilates focus on flexion and extension (the bending of your back), which can help ease chronic back pain and reduce the risk of its return.

Body Positions for Sleep

Sleeping positions for back pain

Back pain and sleeping can be closely related as catching your z’s while on your stomach can put unnecessary stress on your back muscles and spine. Instead, enjoy the benefits of an aligned spine by sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees

Pain Medication

Sometimes sleeping correctly, stretching and exercising still won’t be enough. Consider back pain medication when you simply need fast back pain relief to get through your day. Most often, sufferers look to two types of medication for back pain: Acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

  • Acetaminophen relieves minor aches and pains and reduces fever. Products like TYLENOL® 8HR Muscle Aches & Pain provide relief for up to 8 hours
  • NSAIDs like MOTRIN® IB also provide pain relief (it is a misconception that they reduce inflammation – they do not reduce inflammation at OTC-prescribed dosage levels).
  • Topical pain relievers like BENGAY® can provide targeted back pain relief and even come in a convenient patch form that will stay put while you continue moving.  

If your back pain doesn’t begin to resolve within two weeks of trying the above self-care, or if the pain is especially severe, see your doctor.


Third-party references and links provided in this article are for educational purposes only. No sponsorship or endorsement is implied. Information was used from Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health and the National Sleep Foundation.

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017

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