No special back exercises. No bed rest. As much as possible, just follow your normal routine.
Finnish researchers divided more than 160 people with acute low-back pain into three groups: one group was prescribed two days of bed rest; the second, back exercises; the third simply stuck to their usual activities.
When examined after the first three and then 12 weeks, the no-change group had averaged only four days off work -- vs. five for the exercisers and six for the bed-rest group -- and reported less pain and greater back mobility than the others.
The time for exercise, experts note, is after the pain is gone.