How To Exercise When You Have A Bad Back

We conducted a survey recently of people suffering back pain and the what effect exercise has on the level of pain experienced.

Unsurprisingly (to us), 80% of those questioned said that exercise helps with their back pain, with the remainder saying it depends on the type of exercise.

The problem the vast majority of our clients face is knowing what type of exercise to do which isn’t going to make the problem worse. If you’re already struggling to perform basic daily tasks, the very last thing you want to do is exacerbate the issue and limit yourself further.

The type of exercise you should choose if you have back pain may vary according to your diagnosis, but here’s a quick rundown of things which are safe for the vast majority of back pain sufferers:

1. Pilates

Pilates can help improve posture, core strength, flexibility and balance. It involves slow, controlled exercise to work the whole body, but with a focus on the back and core muscles, making it great for people suffering with a chronic back pain, as often the core and back muscles are weakened.

When you have back pain, there may be some more advanced moves which you may need to avoid. Make sure you tell your trainer about your back so they can modify your routine.

2. Yoga

A gentle, flowing yoga practice will help improve flexibility through stretching and relaxation techniques. Using just your body weight, there is also an element which helps increase total body and core strength.

Again, make sure you tell your teacher about you back as there may be some moves which you should substitute.

3. Weight Training

The better supported your body is, the less pressure your back will be under. By maintaining a strong frame, you can

protect your back against pain and leave it less vulnerable to future attacks.

Free weights and functional training are great as they also work your core muscles, but be aware of moves such as burpees, kettlebell swings and other explosive moves which may aggravate your back. Start gentle, and work your way towards more dynamic moves as you get stronger, and be very careful to use correct technique.

If in doubt, grab an instructor for some guidance.

4. Swimming

As your body is supported by the water, swimming is an excellent choice for maintaining cardiovascular fitness whilst recovering from a bad back. There also will be an element of core and strength work involved as you move against the resistance of the water.

5. Walking

Walking helps by keeping the joints of your spine lubricated as you move, as well as loosening off your muscles. Similar to swimming, it also helps maintain your cardiovascular fitness, which you can increase by walking faster, or walking uphill.


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