Exercising with Low Back Pain

Exercising with Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in the world.  Don’t let low back pain get you down!  A well-designed exercise program can help speed recovery from low back pain, reduce pain levels, and possibly prevent reinjury.  In fact, regular physical activity is superior to spine therapy at helping people cope with back pain and at keeping it under control!  The key to maximizing the benefits of exercise is to follow a well designed program that you can stick to over the long-term.


Exercising with Low Back Pain


  • The goal of exercise training is to improve overall fitness (cardiovascular, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, coordination and function).
  • Talk with your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program and ask if they have specific concerns about you doing exercise.  Most people do very well with regular exercise and sufficient time, but some need surgery.
  • The goal of exercise training is to improve overall fitness while minimizing the stress to the lower back.
  • Choose low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling.
  • Strong abdominals, back, and leg muscles are essential for helping you maintain good posture and body mechanics.  Once the acute pain subsides, you can begin doing light strengthening training exercises designed to help posture.
  • Yoga and tai chi may help relieve or prevent lower back pain by increasing flexibility and reducing tension.  Be careful, however, not to do any poses that could exacerbate your condition.
  • Start slowly and gradually progress the intensity and duration of your workouts.
  • Do low- to moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise for 20 to 60 minutes at least three to four days per week.


Cautions for Exercising with Low Back Pain

  • Avoid high-impact activities such as running.
  • While low-impact aerobic activities can be started within two weeks of the onset of lower back pain, exercises that target the trunk region should be delayed until at least two weeks after the first sign of symptoms. 
  • Never exercise to the point of pain–if something hurts, don’t do it.

Source:  Exercise is Medicine

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