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Exercising with Lower Back Pain

By February 10th, 2020Health, Movement & Fitness

Should I still exercise if I have lower back pain? Should I rest until the pain goes away? The majority of us will experience lower back pain at some or many points in our lives, and in pretty much all cases, this will be down to mechanical issues arising from spinal structures such as bones, muscles, ligaments and joints. So what should we do if this arises? Below I have some of my top tips to help you in this situation.

  1. Get Active – Laying or sitting until the pain subsides is generally not going to help recovery, and in fact, may even make symptoms worse. Moving more is a great approach to helping with recovery. But how much movement? Which movements should I avoid? Let’s have a look at top tips 2 and 3 for what to avoid.
  2. Avoid High Impact Movements – High impact movements, such as running and plyometric exercise, will put the joints of your body under considerably more stress. This will be counter-productive and should be avoided until your pain subsides.
  3. Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects – Heavy objects and weights will put strain on your musculoskeletal system, especially your joints. Lifting heavy weights again may be counter-productive, and should be avoided until your pain subsided. So what could I do instead of avoiding high impact movements and lifting heavy objects/weights?
  4. TRAIN SMART – Pretty much any exercise that we can perform can be adapted in some way or another. Exercises were heavy weights are involved can be adapted to become less intense by decreasing weight or range of motion. For example, if you enjoy heavy barbell back squats, this can be substituted with bodyweight or very light barbell back squats, same movement, just less intense, and less stress on your body. Again enjoy high impact exercises such as running? Walking is a good substitute, and also in a gym setting, the cross trainer would be a great replacement due to the lower impact stress. Again Plyometric squats can be substituted for bodyweight squats. In summary, make exercises simpler and less stressful on your body whilst your back pain is present.
  5. Keep an Eye on your Posture – Aligning your posture is an easy thing to keep in check. Ensuring that you are not slouched when sitting, and keeping your shoulder blades retracted is as a great start. If you sit down for the majority of the day through work or driving etc. try and have regular breaks where you can get up and walk about, and even try the stretches I have given (that’s top tip 6!!). When standing, try again to keep your posture aligned. A good place to start with aligning posture is ensuring there is an imaginary line through your ear lobe, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle joints.
  6. Stretch Out – Muscles can play an important role in maintaining the normal curvature of the spine. Two muscles that can be associated with back pain are hip flexors and piriformis. These muscles can be gradually stretched to relieve lower back pain;
  • Hip Flexor Stretch-
  • Piriformis Stretch-

7. Seek Advice from a Professional – If the pain continues over a period of a couple of months, then seeking help from a professional may be the best action. This can be your GP, or a suitably qualified lower back care professional.

As a lower back pain management exercise specialist I am always happy to help assist with any questions you may have. Please contact Optimum3 here for your free consultation, or with any queries that you may have.

Luke Dunham | Optimum3 Personal Trainer







James Brereton

Author James Brereton

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