Objective: Pathoanatomical beliefs about the cause of low back pain may negatively influence patients' perceptions of ‘best care’, such as the inclusion of exercise for low back pain (LBP) management. The aims of this study were to explore what patients receiving manual therapy are told and understand about their LBP diagnosis, and how this affects their perceptions regarding the role of exercise in the management of their LBP. Design: An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study design was utilised using semi-structured telephone interviews of patients who experience persistent LBP and seek care at an outpatient clinic at the University of South Wales. Ten participants were interviewed for the study (six male). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using an IPA approach. Results: Three main themes were generated: (1) Constructing explanation of pain. (2) Expectations of exercise within care seeking behaviours. (3) Resolving conflict between exercise and back pain narratives. Participants linked their pain to a pathoanatomical cause, impacting their beliefs on exercise as a treatment approach. Conclusion: Diagnostic models used by clinicians which are grounded within a pathoanatomical framework influence patients' perceptions and rationale for exercise. Exercise prescription using contemporary pain science and biopsychosocial approaches should be emphasised in practice and education.