Do’s and Don’ts of Exercising With Lower Back Pain


Lower back pain can interfere with your entire day’s activities, from the first moment you get out of bed in the morning til the time you lay back down at the end of the night. It can make performing even simple movements and tasks a real challenge and can make it difficult to stay active and exercise regularly.

DO: Stay Active

Bed rest used to be the go-to recommendation for managing difficult pains. But now we know that too much rest and inactivity can actually make the pain worse and obstruct the healing process.

While it may seem counterintuitive, staying active is actually one of the best things you can do for your lower back. Regular exercise and physical activity help to increase mobility, strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support your spine, and can even help alleviate pain.

DON’T: Exercise Too Much or Too Intensely

Of course, you don’t want to overdo it, either. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast, or too much can lead to further injury and make the pain worse.

Start slowly and listen to your body. If the pain gets worse, back off, give yourself a break, and try something else.

DO: Focus on Low-Impact Activities

Instead of running, jumping, or lifting heavy weights, focus on low-impact activities that won’t put too much strain on your back.

Swimming, biking, and walking can all be great options. Stretches and yoga poses that focus on gentle, slow movements can also be great for alleviating pain and promoting healing.

DON’T: Continue With Stretches or Activities That Worsen Pain

With lower back pain, many simple movements and stretches can aggravate your pain. While it may be necessary to push through some discomfort at first, you should never continue with an activity or stretch that makes the pain worse. Stop immediately and try something else.

DO: Experiment With Different Activities and Stretches

With lower back pain, one size does not fit all. What works for one person may not work for another. And clinical research suggests that for lower back pain, it might not matter too much which exercise activity you engage in as long as you are doing something.

Find a safe way to experiment with different activities and stretches until you find something you can do without causing unbearable pain. Even if your movement is limited, there are still options out there for you.

DON’T: Ignore the Pain

If the pain is too much to bear, don’t try to tough it out. Rest when you need to, and take pain medication if necessary. Pain signals from your body are there for a reason, and ignoring them can lead to further injury.

DO: See a Doctor or Physical Therapist

If the pain is severe or lasts for more than a few days, it’s time to see a doctor or physical therapist. They can help you diagnose the underlying problem and develop a treatment plan to address it.

They may also recommend specific exercises or stretches to help alleviate your pain and promote healing.

DON’T: Give Up Hope

Lower back pain can be frustrating and may seem like you’ll never find relief. But don’t give up hope. With time, patience, and the right treatment plan, you can learn to manage your pain better and start living a normal, active life again. Stay active, stay positive, and stay hopeful.