Is It Safe To Exercise With A Bad Back? | Physical Therapy for everyBODY
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Is It Safe To Exercise With A Bad Back?

So many patients wonder, is it safe to exercise with a bad back?

If I just let it rest it will get better, right? What if I start to exercise and I just aggravate it more?

These are the questions that we are getting asked often and we understand that it can scary to get out there in exercise when your body is not 100 percent.

Especially a bad back. One sudden movement or wrong twist could have you feeling worse than you do before you started exercising. We find in most cases that exercise CAN help the lower back. Sometimes a lack of exercise is what causes the back to flare up and may be adding to your pain.

You don’t want to run the risk of aggravating it anymore in case it turns into something more serious.

You don’t want to go ‘too hard’ in the gym in case you pull another muscle.

So, what do you do? Keep it moving. Movement Is Life! The muscles gaining strength will get you moving around better than just sitting and hoping that the pain is going to vanish.

Woman Exercising With Lower Back Pain

Here’s why NOT moving is actually worse for your lower back pain…

Taking a walk can reduce the pain that you are feeling in your lower back. In fact, regular walks and exercise can help maintain a healthy core of muscles that keep you from having the lingering back issues that most suffer from at some point in their life.

Walking is a completely natural movement that keeps your joints moving and muscles working. These muscles build your core which allows you to keep that area of the body strong. The muscles also help to support the joints, tissue, and muscle in the back. The stronger and more active those muscles are, the better your back is going to feel. Strong muscles help to alleviate pressures that might be caused by not using the muscles as much when not exercising.

Combining stretching and walking will improve your back’s strength, flexibility, and posture, which will help prevent back pain from creeping up on you when you least expect it.

What’s more, it can also reduce how painful it feels and how much it gets in the way of day-to-day life.

So, here’s the important question to answer now that you know it 100% is ok to exercise with a bad back…

What are some of the exercises you can be doing in order to stay active when the body tries to convince you otherwise?

Safe Ways To Exercise With A Bad Back

Water Aerobics Or Swimming

When you’re suffering from back pain, swimming pools can be an excellent way to get some movement in.

If we’re under water halfway up our chests, we’re only bearing 20% of our weight, comparable to walking on the moon.

A basic pool exercise and movement routine can be very helpful for moving muscles and loosening them up without creating pain.

It’s really, really beneficial when you’re having lower back problems to do things like walking in the pool, walking back and forth, walking side-to-side, using a float, and doing some gentle cycling movements in the water.

If your back pain is severe, you might be able to swim a few lengths of the pool, but this is more likely to aggravate it. Listen to your body. If you back pain increases while you are swimming laps then return to walking in the pool. As your symptoms decrease you can try some lap swimming again.

Recumbent Bicycle

The recumbent bicycle has a backrest which allows you to recline just a little bit and allows an easier type of movement for the lower back without creating problems.

The recumbent bicycle allows for you to exercise with the back support needed to alleviate some of the pain while exercising. When exercising with a recumbent bike, you are able to strengthen core muscles and leg muscles that could help you avoid having the same back issues over months at a time.

This would be a great option for you, provided it feels good and comfortable for you.

The position your body is in on the recumbent bicycle makes a big difference compared to a normal bicycle, and it is a great way to feel comfort when getting the exercise that you need.


Going for a walk is one of the best exercises you can do with a bad back and is one of the better exercises you can do to maintain your health.

Getting moving is part of the issue that most have with an ailing back. Prolonged sitting while at your desk working can cause the back to lose the strength it needs to stay healthy. The muscles that are supposed to be supporting your back are not strong enough which causes more pressure on other areas.

Then, if we sit and watch TV at the end of the day, the situation gets worse. It’s important to keep moving regularly throughout the day to keep the back flexible and the muscles strong.

How To End Back Pain So You Can Enjoy Exercise

If you’ve been struggling with back pain for more than a week, it keeps coming back or it’s become more painful, there may be a more serious cause of the problem.

One that walking and other exercises can’t fix.

If this sounds like you, we would love to invite you for a free back pain assessment, which will enable you to get a full diagnosis and finally understand the real reason your back pain won’t go away!

You can contact us by telephone at 425-658-4944 to claim your Free Back Pain Assessment or by completing our inquiry form in under 30 seconds.

Not sure whether Physical Therapy is right for you?

We appreciate that you may want to find out more and ask some questions about private Physical Therapy which is you can arrange a FREE Discovery Session or a FREE Telephone Consultation.

Other Free Resources To Help You With Lower Back Pain

Download our Free Back Pain Guide here and discover 7 incredibly easy ways to get rid of back pain without medication or surgery!

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Dr. Amy Konvalin

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Struggling with pain and dysfunction can impact every part of our lives — it drains our energy, distracts us from our goals, and keeps us from the people and activities we love. As an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Dr. Amy Konvalin understands how frustrating those limitations can be — and she knows how to help get you back to the life you want to live! Beginning with a focused evaluation, Dr. Amy works to determine the root causes of your pain, as well as understanding how it affects the way you move through your world. Dysfunctional patterns of movement often grow worse with time and cause further damage if left untreated — so it’s important to address these issues as soon as possible. Dr. Amy knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and she partners with patients to identify their unique treatment goals and personal values. Using these goals as a guide, Amy uses her doctorate training in manual (hands-on) therapy and exercise prescription to treat patients with a wide variety of medical challenges and histories throughout the Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Covington areas. Dr. Amy is also a wife to a Boeing superstar/former C-130 navigator. While they lived in Germany, Dr. Amy was able to volunteer with the US Army to treat military personnel and civilians on base. She has two beautiful teenage ballerinas who keep her on her toes and educate her on all things ballet! Bailey, the princess pup, is her running partner and her napping partner. In the spare moments in between, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, wine with friends, Pilates, and walking on the beach.
Dr. Amy Konvalin

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