Basic Exercises

Welcome to the Poise Health Exercise Rehabilitation Programme

These exercises are those often prescribed at Poise Health as your pain starts to subside following a painful episode.  These exercises are designed to improve your joint mobility and muscle function following an episode of pain or stiffness.  Each exercise builds on the next.  It is important to ‘listen’ to your body and not over do it. If you experience increased pain or discomfort, check with your practitioner before proceeding.  A routine of around 5 minutes per day is a good start.  Unless otherwise stated by your practitioner, do no more than 10 repetitions of each exercise.

When lying on your back, if necessary, place a thin pillow under your head to support your head and neck and allow your shoulder girdle to relax.

Exercise 1 – Knees to Chest with gentle rocking to mobilise the spine.

Rocking to gently mobilise the lower backLie on your back and bend your knees.  Lift one knee off the ground towards your chest and then the other knee.  Gently pull your knees towards you and away from you to rock the knees back and forth.   You can place your hands on top of your knees if that is more comfortable.  As you bring your knees to your chest, breath out and as your knees move away from your chest, breath in.   Repeat at least 3 and no more than 10 times.  If necessary, place a pillow under your head if you feel that your head does not easily reach the floor.

Exercise 2 – one knee to chest to mobilise the hip joint and lengthen the hip flexors on the straight leg side.

Exercise 2 - one knee to chest 2Follow on from Exercise 1.  Keep one knee bent and gently bring that knee towards the chest.  Lengthen the other leg so that it straightens along the mat.

If possible, encourage the back of the knee on the straight leg to flatten towards the floor.

Breath in and out at least twice.  Then, place the foot of the leg you are holding on to the floor.  Bend the knee of the straight leg so that both knees are now bent with feet on the floor.  Lift the leg that was straight towards the chest and lengthen the other leg away. Repeat 3 to 10 times each leg.

Exercise 3 – Pelvic tilts to gently mobilise the lower spine and train your inner core muscles.

pelvic tiltsWhilst lying on your back, gently tilt your pelvis in a scoop action so that your pubic bone is moving upwards. At the same time gently contract your lower stomach muscles by pulling them in creating hollow on your abdomen.

pelvic tilt stage 1

You may feel your lower back (lumbar spine) move towards the floor as you gently draw in your stomach muscles towards your spine.  No need to force it.

pelvic tilt stage 2Hold the position for one relaxed breathe and then release the pelvis.

Repeat 3 to 10 times.

Exercise 4 – Cat-Camel stretch to gently mobilise the spine in extension and flexion.

table topStart in the ‘table top’ position so that you are on your hands and knees.

Make sure that hands are below the shoulders and knees are under your hips and hip width apart.  Ensure that your shoulders feel strong and that you are not allowing your spine to ‘sag’ between your shoulder blades.

cat camel stage 1Gently draw in the stomach muscles to activate the core muscles.

To start, gently allow the head to lower and start to raise the spine upwards.

cat camel stage 2


cat camel stage 3

Continue the movement until you feel a stretch along the length of the spine.


Then reverse the posture by gently lifting the head upwards  and at the same time allow the spine to lower.

Only move as much as feels comfortable.  Avoid forcing any movement.  With practice, the movement will increase.

Avoid the feeling of ‘pinching’ at the base of the spine or at the back of the neck.  Avoid over stretching in either direction.

Breathe in and out with the movement.  Repeat 3 to 10 times.

This is a good routine to do regularly once you have recovered from a painful episode of back pain.

Please remember to ‘listen’ to your body.  These exercises are designed to encourage flexibility and improved function following a symptomatic period of back pain. Whilst it is acceptable to feel a little discomfort it is important not to over do any of the stretches in terms of forcing the movement or simply doing too many of the exercises.  In the early stages of recovery, ‘less can be more’.  If you are unsure, talk to your practitioner before proceeding.

Wishing you a speedy and long-lasting recovery.

Poise Health