Best free exercise apps to strengthen and help relieve pain

stretch foot with resistance band

Do you have back pain, neck pain, or other musculoskeletal pain such as a mildly sprained ankle? Do you want help with your pain, but the next available appointment with your healthcare team is days or weeks away? 

The good news is that there are now exercise apps specifically targeted at those who suffer from back, neck, or other body pain.  

Gone are the days when our physiotherapy clinics’ only option was to give patients exercises on a sheet of paper!

There is now a wide range of tools available such as videos and animated exercises.

And even better are mobile apps that help patients, like mine, easily and quickly access exercises that support and strengthen their bodies and help relieve pain. physical therapy on man shoulder

Now when my friends and family ask me the questions like:

  • Which are the best exercises for my back pain?
  • What can I do about the osteoarthritis pain in my knees?

I can recommend some great free apps to help them with their aches and pains!

As a physical therapist, what I love about these apps is that they can help you self-care and better understand your body by tracking pain over time, providing exercises to help manage that pain, and set-up reminders, so you never forget your exercises!

A word of caution

If you do not know the cause of your pain, it’s important to get a qualified healthcare professional’s diagnosis before you start to exercise.

And if you are dealing with pain from an injury, you need to work with your doctor and physical therapists. So, please consult a health professional.

Please remember that none of these apps are substitutes for a visit with your healthcare provider.

As with all exercises, when you begin, you may experience some discomfort during the exercise. 

However, this discomfort should not continue once you have stopped exercising and should not make your symptoms worse.

Related articles

Why exercise matters when you have musculoskeletal pain

There are dozens of studies showing the value of regular exercise to reduce chronic musculoskeletal pain (source: the International Association for the Study of Pain.)

Exercise improves your strength, flexibility, and physical capacity, helping reduce your pain levels over time.

So it’s important to find a workout app that you like because then you’ll keep working out, and your pain will decrease. 

How an exercise app can help you strengthen specific body areas

A good exercise app allows you to immediately help a range of painful conditions as you wait for your doctor or physiotherapist’s expertise.

Without knowing a physiotherapist, it isn’t easy to know which apps provide safe, accurate advice and appropriate exercises.

How do you know if the information or exercises are suitable for your pain?

That’s why I’ve taken a look at some of the best free apps for back, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle pain, which help you self-care in your own home.

Best free exercise apps for your back

Featured App: Back pain relief exercises by Vladimir Ratsev (Android) and Back pain relief exercise at home (IOS) Back pain relief exercises app

This app has a great choice of exercise routines for back pain and two routines for neck pain.

The exercise routines are suitable for anyone who has chronic or acute back or neck pain.

The routines include stretching, strengthening, and mobility exercises for the back and neck.

And they range from a ‘healthy back’ workout to persistent pain and post-operation workouts. 

The app includes:

  • 10 back routines.
  • 2 neck routines.
  • Track your progress.
  • Ability to set an exercise reminder.
  • Create your own workout.
  • Follow-along video with a countdown of exercise repetitions. 
  • A written explanation of exercises.
  • Adjustable rest time between exercises. 
  • Option to purchase an advert-free version.
  • Compatible with IOS & Android.

‘6 Minute’ Back Pain Relief by Round1Flight/Sunset Games app for ‘6 Minute’ Back Pain Relief

If you are short on time, this is a great app as the total exercise time really is 6 minutes!

The exercises are suitable for people with chronic or acute back pain.

  • Single workout.
  • Simple, easy to use.
  • Timed follow-along exercise video.
  • Optional link to YouTube instruction video of each exercise. 
  • Ability to track workouts.
  • Workout reminder.
  • Contains Ads.
  • Compatible with IOS & Android.

Spinal Health by Insoft Android app Spinal Health by Insoft

Here is another good choice of app for back pain relief if you don’t have much time.

It has three different short workouts, one for acute back pain and two for chronic back pain.

This app also has a workout for knee pain, which is a set of 18 strengthening exercises.

The exercises progress in difficulty, with the first exercises suitable for acute knee pain and the later ones suitable for chronic knee pain. 

  • 3 exercise routines. 
  • 3 different levels of exercises.
  • Follow along with exercise video with timer.
  • Ability to track progress. 
  • Ability to set reminders.
  • 3 different languages (English, German & Arabic). 
  • Compatible with Android devices.

Best free exercise apps for your neck

Neck pain relief exercises by mEL Studio Android app Neck pain relief exercises by mEL Studio

This app has a base program of 6 exercises suitable for acute and chronic neck pain.

You have the option to purchase a daily exercise workout program and a neck and shoulders program. 

  • Simple, easy to use.
  • Single workout.
  • Adjustable exercise time & rest time.
  • Track pain score.
  • Set exercise reminders.
  • Track progress. 
  • Can buy an ad-free version
  • Compatible with Android devices.

Text neck -forward head correction, by Posture Correction Professionals iOS and Android app Text Neck - Forward Head Posture Correction

Text neck is a great app for neck pain with many features and short workouts of between 5 and 8 minutes long.

It has a perfect mixture of strength, stretching, and posture correction exercises.

The exercises are suitable for people with either acute or chronic neck pain.

Additionally, there is an in-app purchase option available if you want to consult a health professional.

  • Provides educational information. 
  • Includes a posture analysis test.
  • Follow-along animated exercise video with timer. 
  • Customize exercises. 
  • Set exercise reminders. 
  • Log exercise sessions. 
  • Available in Spanish, Polish, or English. 
  • Ability to buy the ad-free version.
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices.

Best free exercise apps for your shoulder

Frozen shoulder by abayapps Android app Frozen shoulder by abayapps

This is a basic app with a good range of 12 exercises to increase shoulder movements and stretch the shoulder’s soft tissues.

The exercises are suitable for people with frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis of the shoulder, or anyone who has pain or limited movements in that area.

  • Easy to use.
  • Provides educational information. 
  • Images of exercises with written instructions. 
  • Compatible with Android devices.

Shoulder Exercise for Seniors by Vi Nguyen iOs app Shoulder Exercise for Seniors by Vi Nguyen

Definitely not just suitable for seniors, this app has a lot of nice features like the ability to track supplement intake and joint soreness.

It has a huge range of exercises to increase shoulder movement and flexibility.

It is suitable for people with acute or chronic shoulder pain.

  • 18 minutes of total workout time.
  • Follow-along timed exercise video.
  • Customize workouts.
  • Track supplement intake and joint soreness.
  • Set exercise reminders. 
  • Track your progress. 
  • Option to record and track daily calorie usage. 
  • Available in 21 languages.
  • Compatible with iOS.

Best free exercise apps for your knee, hip, foot, and hand

Knee Osteoarthritis Exercises by duruapps Android app Knee Osteoarthritis Exercises by duruapps

Knee osteoarthritis exercises are a basic app with a good mix of mobility, strength, and stretching exercises for people with osteoarthritis of the knee or chronic knee pain.

  • 15 exercises.
  • Images of exercises with written instructions.
  • Contains Ads.
  • Compatible with Android devices. 

Pocket Physio by Care Uk App Pocket Physio by Care Uk

An excellent app designed for people to use before and after surgery, but it is also suitable for people who have acute or chronic pain of the knee, hip, foot, or hand. 

There is a good selection of strengthening, stretching, and balance exercises suitable for people with acute pain (use pre-surgery exercises) to chronic pain (use post-surgery exercises).

It also advises on general recovery and how to perform tasks following surgery, such as using crutches, sleeping, and bathing.

  • Gives advice and precautions for post-hip & knee surgery.
  • Gives post-op advice on managing at home
  • Provides self-assessment tools to measure progress.
  • Follow-along exercise videos with written exercise instructions.
  • Ability to set reminders for appointments and to exercise.
  • Ability to progress exercises.
  • Compatible with iOS & Android.

Best free exercise apps for your ankle Android app Ankle Rehab Exercises wifiextenderapp

Ankle Rehab Exercise by wifieextenderapp

Ankle rehab exercise is another good basic easy to use app suitable for acute or chronic ankle pain, such as osteoarthritis or ankle sprain.

It has a good variety of 19 exercises to improve balance, movement, strength, and flexibility.

  • Simple & easy to use
  • Animated exercises with written instructions.
  • Contains Ads.
  • Compatible with Android devices.

Ankle Exercises by Stefan RooboliOS app Ankle Exercises by Stefan Roobol

This app has a good selection of strengthening, stretching, and balance exercises suitable for an ankle sprain or chronic ankle pain such as osteoarthritis.

It has paid options if you want to add more features and create your own workout to choose 7 more advanced exercises.

  • Single workout with 9 exercises
  • Follow-along timed exercise videos 
  • Ability to track progress
  • Compatible with iOS.

Final thoughts

Now that you have looked at the best free workout apps to help specific parts of the body, choose one that best suits you.

You can start working out and look forward to saying hello to strength and goodbye to pain!

If you have a favorite app that we didn’t mention, have any more questions, or anything to add, please feel free to let us and everyone else know about it in the comments section below!

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My sources for this article:

  1. Musculoskeletal Pain: It’s More Than What Happens in the Body
  2. Exercise for the musculoskeletal system
I have a first-class honors Physiotherapy degree and a second class honors Sports Science degree. I am also a certified Yoga teacher and Yoga therapist. Before completing my University education in the United Kingdom, I worked as a fitness instructor and athletics coach for many years. Since 2008 I have been practicing in the UK as a Chartered Physiotherapist, and traveling to European and World Cup tournaments with the Wales Masters field hockey team as their physiotherapist. I am passionate and actively involved in health and fitness and in the process of research and writing. I believe everyone should have access to the latest health and wellness research in simple, easy to understand language. In 2009 I published a research article ‘Is Yoga An Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain’ in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Currently, I am a freelance writer producing content relating to physiotherapy and health and wellness. I love anything animal! I have three rescued dogs and two parrots. I placed third lady in my city’s annual marathon (dressed as a bunny!) to raise funds for an animal welfare charity.

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