Chair Exercises for Back pain

Back pain is a significant health issue for people all over the world. Few simple chair exercises suited for back pain can help alleviate the pain. A study showed that 80% of the population would experience back pain at some point. Back pain may be due to multiple causes including injury, muscle strain, bulging or herniation of the discs, etc. It’s essential to carry out specific exercises to improve the condition. Chair exercises are gentle movements that stimulate the core muscles to support the back without straining it. They’re simple to perform, and they don’t require much space. In this article, we will look at a few exercises for back pain that you can do in the comfort of your chair and what to do with them to maximize their benefits.

Why chair exercises for back pain?

Some key reasons why chair exercises are recommended for back pain are:

  • They are low impact – Chair exercises put minimal stress on the back since you are supported by the chair. This makes them safe for people with chronic or acute back pain issues.
  • Engage core muscles – The movements target the abdominal, back, and glutes muscles, which help provide stability and support to the spine. Strong core muscles are essential for back health.
  • Easy to do anywhere – Chair exercises can be done at home, in the office, or anywhere there is a chair. You don’t need specialized equipment or a gym.
  • Improve posture and flexibility – Some exercises help open up the chest and shoulders and improve posture. Over time, they enhance the flexibility of the back and hips.
  • Manage pain and stiffness – Regular practice of chair exercises circulates blood flow and reduces tension, stiffness, and pain in the back and hips.
  • Build strength gradually – Being low impact, they allow you to build strength in the back and core slowly without exacerbating back pain issues.

Popular chair exercises for back pain

Following are some of the most effective and commonly recommended chair exercises for back pain relief:

Back extension

  • Sit near the front edge of the chair with feet flat on the floor and hands on thighs.
  • Inhale and slowly lift your chest, extending your back and looking up at the ceiling.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times, 2-3 times a day.

This exercise strengthens the back extensor muscles and improves posture. It stretches and opens up the chest and shoulders.

Side bends

  • Sit near the front edge of the chair with feet flat on the floor spine straight.
  • Inhale and slowly bend your torso to one side as far as comfortable without pain.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and exhale, coming back to center.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Do 10-15 reps on each side, 2-3 times daily.

This targets the obliques and sides of the waist, improving flexibility and stability.


  • Sit near the front with hands on thighs, back straight.
  • With no pain, raise one knee toward your chest as high as possible.
  • Slowly lower it back and lift the other knee, alternating legs.
  • Do it at a moderate pace for 1-2 minutes.

This engages the core and hip flexors without straining the back. It improves blood circulation.

Forward reach

  • Sit near the front edge of the chair with feet flat, elbows bent, and close to your sides.
  • Inhale and reach one arm forward, torso following the arm movement.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, exhale, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other arm and complete 10-15 reps per side.

This stretches the chest, shoulders, and sides of the waist, improving mobility and reducing tension.

Seated twist

  • Sit near the front edge with one hand behind you on the chair for support.
  • Inhale and gently twist your upper back to look over the opposite shoulder.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, exhale, and come back to the center.
  • Repeat twisting to the other side.
  • Do 10-15 reps per side.

The seated twist stretches and loosens the back muscles and the sides of the waist.

Shoulder rolls

  • Sit near the edge with shoulders relaxed and knees together.
  • Slowly roll your shoulders backward 5 times in a circle.
  • Then, roll them forward 5 times.
  • Repeat the shoulder rolls 2-3 times.

Loosens tight shoulders, which are often connected to back pain. Provides relief.

Cat/cow pose

  • Get on all fours with hands on the chair seat, knees under hips.
  • Inhale, drop belly, and let back arch looking up.
  • Exhale rounding back, chin to chest.
  • Repeat 5 times slowly, coordinating breaths.

Simulates cat and cow yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the back safely while seated.

Proper form and technique

To get the best results from chair exercises and prevent further back issues, it is essential to follow some tips:

  • Go slow – Never bounce or jerk your body. Move through a comfortable range of motion.
  • Breathe steadily – Inhale before the movement and exhale during or after. This stabilizes the core.
  • Listen to your body – Don’t push through pain. Stop if you feel discomfort. You can modify the range of motion.
  • Sit up straight – Engage core muscles and keep the natural curves of your spine. Avoid slouching.
  • Hold railing if available – For stability and balance during marching or one-leg lifts.
  • Alternate sides – For twists, side bends, and arm movements to work both sides equally.
  • Start gentle – Low reps and sets, slowly build up as the back gets more robust.
  • Consult a doctor if needed – Especially if new or sharp pain or discomfort arises.

Benefits of regular practice

Regular practice of chair exercises provides numerous benefits for back pain relief and overall back health. Some main advantages include reduced pain levels, as gentle movements improve blood circulation. Continuous practice also enhances posture and mobility. Back muscles like the core, shoulders, and hips gain strength and flexibility over time. This provides crucial support to the spine and allows one to perform daily activities with fewer limitations. Regular exercise further aids in stress relief by relaxing the nervous system when combined with breathing. It prevents future back issues and injuries by strengthening weak areas of the back.

Tips for success and consistency

It is essential to build consistency to make chair exercises a long-term routine. Scheduling a set time daily, like in the mornings, ensures the session is not overlooked. Choosing a quiet, distraction-free spot at home allows one to focus on form and technique. It is best to start with 10-15 minutes and gradually increase duration to avoid burnout. Tracking progress keeps one motivated to challenge themselves with higher reps. Variety in exercise selection targets different muscle groups to avoid plateauing. Most importantly, being patient and continuing to exercise even if you miss a session occasionally will yield results much faster than an on-and-off approach. Small celebrations for completing periods of consistency reinforce positive behavior long-term.

When to consult a doctor

Some signs require consulting a doctor while doing chair exercises. New sudden back pain during or after exercise needs evaluation. Other red flags are numbness/tingling in the legs, unexplained weight loss, injury from an accident, or pain radiating below the knees. If chronic back pain persists over 4 weeks despite exercises, it’s best to get a medical opinion. This could show a severe underlying problem requiring other treatment options besides home exercises. Regular monitoring and listening to one’s body is essential for safety while benefiting from chair workouts.

5 min Chair exercises for back pain (credit – @highdesertyogi)


Regular practice of simple chair exercises can greatly relieve chronic or acute lower back pain. Being low impact, they strengthen the core gently and improve posture, mobility, and flexibility with time. To prevent further injury, following a correct form and progressively increasing duration is essential. Chair exercises, coupled with lifestyle modifications such as good eating habits or stress management, are an easy and drugless way to maintain flexibility and mobility in the body for holistic well-being. Many can reduce their reliance on solid painkillers and enjoy general back health with consistency and patience. Regular exercise can keep you healthy and fit , here is a list of 7 exercises to do everyday to stay fit and healthy.

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