As an Osteopath I see patients on a daily basis with all kind of back issues.
There are two things that I suggest for most patients to help relieve back pain as well as prevent it from returning.
Try to improve mobility!
Yoga, and other forms of exercises that help to take your joints through a full range of movement, help to improve joint mobility and reduce the risk of injuries such as muscle strains. If you have poor mobility at one are of your back, ie. upper back, which is common with desk workers, your body compensates by overworking other adjacent areas such as your neck and low back.
Try to improve your stability!
Pilates is great at helping to not only improve core strength, but also hip and shoulder stability which in turn helps to take stress off your low back and neck. Stability is your ability to fix an area of the body while moving another. Poor pelvic stability, normally as a result of under active or weak deep abdominal muscles (core muscles) can overload the low back muscles which stabilise the spine.
When in pain, work within ranges of movements that feel comfortable. If exercises, feel very painful while doing them or aggravate symptoms after then leave them alone!
Seek advice on what exercises you can do to help reduce the time it takes to recover by asking your practitioner.
Callum Watson, Osteopath