A Map to Your Back Pain

by Brittany Kafka

It hurts to get out of bed in the morning, it hurts to get in and out of the car, it hurts to stand up, it hurts to sit down, it hurts to get dressed. Does any of that sound like you? If so, read on!

Back pain can really limit us from completing our daily activities and impact nearly everything we do in a day. As a result, it can be difficult to figure out what you should and should not do when your back hurts. However, the good news is that back pain is rarely dangerous and that our backs are strong, resilient, and often, craving movement.

If you follow the MAP [Movement, Activity Modification, Pain Management] to your back pain, it should help take you where you want to go!


Even though it’s sometimes counterintuitive, movement is often one of the best things we can do when our back hurts. Here are a few gentle movements to try for a sore back! With each of the movements below, you are always in control of how much you move. Try to always keep any exercise you do for your back within a comfortable range of motion when your back is aggravated!

1. Cat Camel

Start in a 4 point position (hands and knees). Arch your back and look up to the sky while inhaling. Then, exhale and round your back. Try 2 sets of 10 each day!

2. Child’s Pose to Cobra

Start in a child’s pose with your bum towards your heels. Then, come into a four-point position and bring your hips towards the ground, transitioning into a cobra, leading with your hips pushing toward the ground.
Try 2 sets of 10 each day!

3. Lumbar Rockers

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently let your legs rock from side to side. Try 2 sets of 10 each day!

Activity Modification

Here are four ways we can decrease the intensity of our tasks without eliminating them altogether. Try turning the dial down a notch instead of cutting things out altogether!

  1. Decrease range of motion. For example, try doing a mini squat or mini lunge instead of all the way to your end range.
  2. Decrease the number of reps. Take out a set or take out a few repetitions or decrease the frequency of your sessions/activity each week.
  3. Decrease speed or resistance. Work at a slower pace or decrease the weights that you’re using.
  4. Increase rest between activities. Take longer breaks between sets/reps or take more days off during the week.

Pain Management

It’s essential to have strategies in your tool kit that can help provide some relief and reduction of symptoms in certain positions. Here are three ways that can help!

  1. Resting Table Top. Lying on your back, elevate your feet to 90 degrees, ensuring your calves are supported. This helps reduce any load or weight through the spine and is usually a very comfortable position. Try taking a few breaths here!
  2. Side-Lying. If you lie on your side to sleep, place a pillow between your knees. This helps take some tension off the back and hips!
  3. Heat or Cold. Depending on your preference, try using a hot or cold pack for 15 minutes. Avoid putting it directly on your skin.

Heat or Cold. Depending on your preference, try using a hot or cold pack for 15 minutes. Avoid putting it directly on your skin.

Brittany KafkaWhat next?

If you’re experiencing back pain and want more of a personalized road map, book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist, Brittany Kafka, at Synergy East, today! She facilitates a safe, engaging, and welcoming environment to make physiotherapy fun and get you back doing the things you love!

You can call us to book a consultation at (416) 551-8715, or simply book online.

Brittany Kafka is a physiotherapist practicing at Synergy Sports Medicine, East End (2017 Danforth Avenue)

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