It’s hard enough being in pain, let alone figuring out what exercises are going to be good or bad for you! This article is aimed at showing you a few simple exercises for each body part and give you an idea of how you can get stringer and get on top of your pain!


There are a tonne of neck and shoulder exercises out there, but here are some of my favourites. 


Can be done with a resistance band or cable machine. Face-pulls work the majority or our upper back, shoulders and neck, so a brilliant bang for buck exercise. The aim is to start with two handles, and then bring your hands to either side of your head. So this is comprised of two movements – the first being a row and the second being external rotation of the shoulder. 


These are a simple, yet effective exercise for targeting the upper back and neck. There are a few variations, but to start with the simple shrug, simply grab 2 dumbbells (or something of the sort) and hold them at your sides, with straight elbows. Then maintaining that elbow position, bring your shoulders up to your ears and slowly return to the starting position. 

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So my go-to exercises for back pain relief is the cat-cow, get ready to embrace your inner yogi! 🧘‍♀️ 


Performed in a 4-point-kneel, the idea is to gently push your belly towards the floor (which is the cow part, 🐄 ) and then progress to arching the back towards the roof (which is the cat part, 🐱 ). Gently alternate between these two positions and work within your tolerable ranges. You can repeat this as much as you feel comfortable doing.


For strengthening the back I like to begin with the Bird-Dog 🐕 . This is a great exercise for gently introducing load to the back.

To perform this technique, begin in a 4-point kneel and then reach one-arm out in front of the body, then return to the starting position, and do the same with one-leg. You can then cycle through each limb and aim to hold for 5-seconds. 

To progress this exercise, aim to reach one-arm and the alternate leg out at the same time. 

For sets and reps – look at working through 10 repetitions of 5-second holds. Then up that in terms of repetitions.


This is one of my favourite exercises, and works a lot of areas at the same time, including the lower-back, hamstrings and glutes. This exercise is often demonised and also overly-complicated. But, I’m here to tell you that it is safe, when done correctly, and is a great way of developing functional strength. 

To do the deadlift, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, and soft-knees (not locked out).

And the cue I often give is – aim to push your bum back as far as you can. In doing this, we are aiming to ‘hinge’ at the hips. For Simpsons fans – imagine the drinking bird that homer has. 

You should find that your trunk begins to flex forward, and your knees stay in the same position. 

To make this harder we then add in dumbbells in either hand, and the cue remains the same, but I often now add in – aim to place the dumbbells beside each foot. 

To then progress, we add in a barbell. 



These are a simple, but effective exercise and can be progressively increased as you get stronger. To start this exercise, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Then simply push your hips towards the roof and aim to reach full extension, return to the ground and that’s one done!

To make this harder, simply try using one leg (with the other pointing in the air).


This is essentially a harder version of the glute bridge, and also allows you to add weight at the hips to get more gains!

To do this exercise, you’ll need to start with your upper back on a bench/chair etc. This exercise differs from the glute bridge as you push towards the roof, you will lift your body up too. Again as this gets easier, add weight to the hips, in the form of a dumbbell, barbell etc.


This is a great exercise for developing lateral hip and abdominal strength. To do this get into a side plank position, but I tend to have the bottom leg bent, so only the knee doing the work (ideally you want to have a straight line going from your shoulder to the knee). Come into a plank, by lifting the hips off the floor, then with the upper leg lift towards the ceiling and back to neutral. 



One of the big-dogs of all exercises! The squat works multiple muscle groups and is an essential in our day to day functions. 

There are multiple ways to do a squat and I’ll list a few of the simple progressions that I take people through: 

Wall Sits – simply rest against a wall with your feet out in front of you. Slide down the wall as far as comfortable and return to the starting position. 

Sit to Stands – Using a chair, couch or bed etc. stand in front of your chosen platform and simply sit down, then return to the staring position! This is a great way to develop your squat technique. 

Squats – Essentially the sit to stand minus the chair. Again, work in your tolerated ranges. You can begin to add weight either in front of you or on the shoulders. 


Whether you perform this on an actual leg extension machine, or with resistance bands or whatever other contraption you may have, this is a great way of developing knee strength.

Hopefully this guide has given you some ideas to begin your journey to a stronger body! As always these exercises are suggestions rather than a prescription, and you should check in with a health professional to see if they are suited to you!



James Brown 

The Feel Good Physio. 




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