How Do I Exercise With A Bad Back?


Let’s talk about exercise and back pain.

Last week I had a question asked by one of our patients, Mary age 56, of Peoria, Arizona.

It is a very common question.

Is it ok to exercise when my back is hurting? I’ve just got into a good routine at the gym working out three times a week, and I really don’t want to stop…”

Can exercise make back pain worse?

I get the frustration, I know the thought of doing any movement when you are going through some kind of pain may feel a little scary.

You don’t want to run the risk of aggravating it anymore just in case it turns into something more serious.

You don’t want to go “too hard” in the gym just in case you pull another muscle.

And you don’t want to wake up one day to find it difficult to get out of bed, walk down the street, or even drive because what you did made it worse.

Don’t let that worry you too much – That is rarely the case!

An aching lower back doesn’t mean you have to be housebound with ice packs until it magically goes away.

You CAN keep moving, In fact, not moving at all can make your back pain worse!

Here’s why…

If you suffer from lower back pain that comes and goes, gentle walking with exercises designed to improve lower back strength will make a big difference.

Walking is a natural movement that keeps your joints mobile and muscles working – even those in your feet, legs, hips, and torso – which play a vital role in keeping the muscles in your back, strong.

Stretching combined with walking will improve your back strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn, can help stop back pain from creeping up on you when you least expect it.

So here’s the important question to answer now that you know it is 100% OK to exercise even if you’ve got a bad back…

The best exercises for lower back pain

What exercise can you actually be doing? Because of course, too much exercise, or exercise that’s strenuous could make it worse or keep it hanging around longer.

Introducing Yoga.

Even though there are false beliefs around Yoga, like ‘you’ve got to be flexible’ etc., etc., etc… you can disregard those false beliefs because it’s for anyone!

Let me tell you why – Yoga helps build strength.

Follow along with this video to learn some simple yoga stretches for back pain.

Yoga requires you to concentrate on specific muscles in the body when holding poses – many of them improve back strength. When these muscles are stronger your back pain can be greatly reduced and is less likely to affect you as bad as it once did.

As well as strengthening, Yoga relaxes the body and reduces any tension in stress-carrying muscles (a.k.a your back!)

For people with lower back pain, stretching is important. Stretching the muscles in your legs actually helps to increase the range of movement in your hips, taking the stress off your lower back – which also increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in, taking care of the muscles in your back.

It is also one of the best forms of exercise to maintain and improve a healthy posture. It feels great when you can walk around confident and tall.

So there you have it, gentle walks and yoga.

Read how walking can make you feel healthier and happier!

Both of these will help you gain back the strength in your back, so you can return to doing the exercise you love the most.

If you want tips for easing back pain, here’s our free special report with 7 top tips to keep active with less back pain – just click on one of the images to get your free report…

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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