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How to Get in Shape with a Bad Back

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How to Get in Shape with a Bad Back

An achy back is one of the most common sources of chronic pain. While you might not want to exercise if your back hurts, physical activity can significantly help your spine and overall endurance, stamina, and function. Peer-reviewed research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that exercise is therapeutic and can even improve back flexibility and strength while relieving pain and improving mood. While lying in bed may seem like the best choice, it’s bed rest that is actually the worst thing to do for back pain.

Exercises that Help Alleviate Back Pain

There are plenty of exercises to get you back in shape if you’re daunted by the prospect of getting on the treadmill when you’re both in pain and out of shape. It’s possible to increase your fitness level even if you suffer from back pain, just make sure you start slow and steady, and if you’re unsure of which exercises would be best for you, consult a doctor or physical therapist for a personalized exercise regimen. You will notice a huge improvement in your mood, as exercising is proven to release endorphins, the “feel good hormone,” which causes a natural high that promotes mental wellbeing. Try out the following exercises and see how you feel – what do you have to lose? Just protect yourself, listen to your body, and be open minded. You don’t have to feel like exercise must be “no pain, no gain,” – that’s really your body’s way of telling you you’re not ready for a particular maneuver, or that you’re not doing it properly.

Recumbent Biking

A stationary bike may hurt when you have to lean over to reach the handlebars, so a recumbent bike is an excellent option, especially because you get to lean back and have the pedals out in front of you.


Yoga can help you get your heart pumping and loosens up muscle tension. Make sure you let your instructor know any of your limitations so they can tailor your yoga poses to your capability level.


Sit-ups and crunches may be popular, but they put pressure on your lower back or neck and can worsen existing pain. Instead, strengthen your abdominal muscles in a back-friendly way through planking. It’s the “up” part of a push-up, but you balance on your forearms instead of your hands. During a plank, keep your back as flat as you can.

Wall Sits

Squats may sound like a great idea, but they can aggravate back pain if you’re not careful. A great alternative that works wonders for your abdominal muscles is wall sitting, which works many of the same muscles and has the added benefit of providing back support as you lean against the wall.

Do You Have Back Pain and Need a Workout Routine Just for You? Contact Us at Fox Valley Orthopedics.

Our orthopedists are experts in helping back pain sufferers learn how to cope with back pain and get back into fitness. While you may think you can’t get fit, a safe, realistic approach to fitness is a great way to start. We’re here to help.

To make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at Fox Valley Orthopedics, please dial (630) 584-1400 today.