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Back Pain Center

What Are the Best Exercises for a Bad Back?

author image Kevin Dowd
Kevin Dowd began his professional writing career in the summer of 2009, when he wrote for Flexibooks, of Macmillam Education Australia. He graduated from William Paterson University in 2008 with a degree in history.
What Are the Best Exercises for a Bad Back?
Senior couple walking Photo Credit Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images


Exercising is tough for anyone with a bad back. Regardless of the circumstances or the level of pain you’re in, it is important to strengthen your back properly. Typical exercises can often worsen the back. And since nearly every exercise works the back in some way, it is important to do it the correct way. The cardinal rule for exercising with a bad back is to perform low-impact exercises. Anything that puts a lot of pressure on your feet will put a lot of strain on your back.


Make sure to keep moving. Running takes too much of a toll on the back. Constantly pounding your feet on the ground will quickly shoot pain up your back. Instead, walking is ideal. While it may not seem like much, an uninterrupted 15- to 30-minute walk every day will move your spine and relieve pain. The walk, however, should be quicker and harder than normal. You want to break a sweat, not take a stroll in the park.


Swimming is a terrific workout for your back. It has no impact and works muscles not commonly stimulated by other activities. It is also a guaranteed workout for the entire back because you are moving through the water using both your arms and legs. Other workouts simply cannot target the upper, mid and lower back the way swimming can.


Stretching is extremely beneficial for your back. It prevents stiffness and alleviates pain by forcing the body to bend and move. It not only provides immediate relief, but works as a preventive measure by keeping the spine loose. Simple stretches, such as bending over to touch your toes, will produce results.

Yoga and Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are effective exercises for back pain. They accommodate all levels of strength and flexibility. If you're just starting out, you may not be able to bend very much or hold the positions very long, but you'll still feel a difference. A fitness guru, on the other hand, can always improve by attempting new moves and holding the positions longer. Much like stretching, you get an immediate sense of relief and you are improving your back long term.


It is important to stop exercising if it is too painful--you may do more harm than good. In addition, remember that strengthening your abdominal muscles also strengthens your back. Above all, remember to practice good posture. It’s useless to exercise if you aren’t doing the simplest thing right. Always hold your center and walk with a straight back.

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