When most people experience back pain they tend to take it easy and lie in bed waiting for things to get better. Stopping strenuous activity is good idea but only in the short term. If you take it easy for more than a day or two you may actually be undermining the healing process. Any time back pain is present you should perform light back exercises to rehabilitate the spine and help alleviate back pain.
When exercises are performed in a controlled, gradual, and progressive manner the body has an opportunity to distribute nutrients into the disc space and soft tissues of the lower back to assist the discs, muscles, ligaments and joints that are affected by the injury. Due to this healing process I always recommend doing regular lower back exercises to help avoid stiffness and weakness, which assists in minimizing recurrences of lower back pain. Performing light lower back exercises will reduce the severity and duration of the current injury as well as help protect against future episodes of lower back pain.
Depending on your specific diagnosis and level of pain your exercise schedule should be designed to help recovery in the short term, so now would not be a good time to push the boundaries of your strength. As with any injury I would advise you to see a doctor in case your condition is more serious than just a minor strain or a pulled muscle. Always remember that back exercises must be performed using the correct form and technique otherwise further injury can occur.
In order to significantly decrease healing time, your back training program should be comprehensive and work the entire back muscle group. By performing exercises such as seated cable rows, lat pull downs as well as back extensions you will be well on your way to strengthening your body and minimizing the probability of future back injuries. Your back training regimen should always include a combination of stretching, strengthening, and low impact aerobic conditioning once you’re back to 100%.