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  • Writer's picturePeter George

Should I Still Exercise with Lower Back Pain?

Did you know that 60-80% of adults at some stage in their life will experience back pain and for some this is a persistent and regular occurrence? The common reaction is to cease all forms of physical activity, this in fact is causes more issues down the track as inactivity can worsen back pain. The best thing to do when feeling pain in the low back pain is to keep moving. Evidence has shown that exercise programs that combine muscular strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness is the most beneficial for the rehabilitation and prevention of chronic low back pain.

What can cause back pain?

Several risk factors can cause low back pain, these risk factors are;

· Physical inactivity

· Improper lifting technique

· Excessive weight/ Obesity

Benefit of strength training- Increasing core abdominal muscular strength can assist in supporting the lumbar spine. Having a strong and stable abdominal core is a fundamental aspect of spine health. A strong and stable abdominal core helps keep your body upright and allows for flexible movement. Without core strength and stability, your spine will become stressed, risking further injury. When working out with back pain, core exercises are a good place to start. Many people assume that when you experience low back pain you should avoid weight and resistance training. However, evidence suggests differently. Multiple studies have found that back pain sufferers who participate in weight training programs see a decrease in reported self-pain symptoms compared to those who avoid exercise. When completing weight training it is best to strengthen all muscle groups that support the back and the abdominals which is the pectoral, glutes & hamstrings.

Benefit of stretching & improving flexibility- Improving flexibility of the back increases the range of motion and assist with functional movement. Stretching is an important part of fixing a sore back. Evidence shows that stretching tight hamstring, quads and glute muscles can help relieve pressure from the low back. It is recommended to perform stretching daily.

Benefits of aerobic cardiovascular training- Aerobic exercise increases the blood flow and nutrients to the soft tissues in the back and reduces the stiffness that can result in back pain. Short sessions of low-impact cardio activity multiple times a week can help with cardiovascular health and weight loss and reduce chronic back pain. Low impact cardio activity is important as it provides minimal load to the spine, examples of low impact activities are the bike or aquatic exercises. Aquatic exercise appears to be particularly effective for sufferers of back pain. Studies have found that water aerobics can help alleviate back pain.

Activities to avoid-

· High impact cardio such as running

· Repetitive twisting or bending over

· Sit ups

Visit or call (02) 9423 9511 to book an Exercise Physiology session.


Gordon, R., & Bloxham, S. (2016). A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 4(2), 22.

Welch N, Moran K, Antony J, Richter C, Marshall B, Coyle J, Falvey E, Franklyn-Miller A. The effects of a free-weight-based resistance training intervention on pain, squat biomechanics and MRI-defined lumbar fat infiltration and functional cross-sectional area in those with chronic low back.

BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2015 Nov 9;1(1):e000050.

Burr, J., Shephard, R., Cornish, S., Vatanparast, H., & Chilibeck, P. (2012). Arthritis, osteoporosis, and low back pain: evidence-based clinical risk assessment for physical activity and exercise clearance. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 58(1), 59–62.

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