Is It Safe To Exercise With A Bad Back?

Exercise With Back Pain
Exercise With Back Pain


Want to know if it is safe to exercise with a bad back?

This week I had a question asked by one of our amazing clients, Rob, 51, from Carlsbad… And it’s one that we get asked often! It went something like this…

“This past weekend I was skating and I hurt my back. It was so bad I had to call in to work on Monday morning because I was bed-bound with ice packs and taking Advil. I’ve had this type of back pain many times in the past. I usually wait for the pain to magically disappear because I’ve never known when it is okay to exercise when my back is hurting

Exercise With A Bad Back

I understand the confusion “Dr. Google” might bring and more importantly, I also know the thought of doing any movement at all when you’re going through some kind of pain might feel a little scary. You definitely don’t want to run the risk of aggravating your back pain any more in case it turns into something more serious.

It’s very important that you don’t go ‘too hard’ too early, especially if you don’t know what’s really going on.

And you especially don’t want to wake up one day finding yourself unable to roll out of bed easily, having to take you 20 minutes to get dressed, and where standing or sitting has become a nightmare from what YOU did and now made it worse.

But don’t let that worry you too much – that’s rarely ever the case!

An aching lower back doesn’t mean you’ve got to be laid up for days, with heat and ice packs and a bottle of painkillers until it magically disappears.

In fact, you CAN keep moving and on the contrary to common thinking – not moving at all can make your back pain worse!

Here’s Why…

If you suffer from lower back pain that comes and goes, as little as gentle walking can help. You will notice it will make a big difference versus just lying in bed.

Walking is a completely natural movement that keeps your joints mobile and muscles working – even those in your feet, legs, hips and torso – which play an important role in keeping the muscles strong in your back that help with posture.

Furthermore, appropriate stretching combined with walking will  improve your back’s overall strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn, can help stop 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’s 100% okay to exercise even if you’ve got a bad back…

What Exercise Can You Actually Be Doing?

Because of course, too much exercise, or exercise that’s strenuous could make it worse or keep it hanging around longer.

Click Here If You Want More Information About How Pilates Can Help You

Introducing Pilates

Even though there’s false beliefs around Pilates, like ‘you’ve got to be a female’ etc., etc., etc.… you can leave those false beliefs behind because it’s for anyone and everyone!

Let me tell you why –  Pilates helps build strength.

Pilates requires you to concentrate on specific muscles in the body while strengthening – many of which improve back strength and stabilization. When these muscles are stronger, your back pain can be greatly reduced and is less likely to affect you as bad as it once did.

As well as strengthening, Pilates relaxes the body, improves muscle tone and flexibility, releases endorphins and reduces any tension in your stress-carrying muscles (a.k.a your back!)

Stabilization Is Key

For people with lower back pain, a sound program focused on spine stabilization is important. Combine those exercises with an appropriate stretching program and you will gradually help to increase range of movement in your legs, hips and torso, taking the stress off your lower back – which in addition increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in, making a happy and healthy back.

It’s also one of the best forms of exercise to maintain and improve posture. Great for your back, stopping back pain in its tracks, and add the benefits of it making you feel great when you can walk around confident and tall.


So, there you have it, gentle walks and stretches – combined with a sound core muscle strengthening and spine stabilization program with Pilates.

The right combination of these will help you gain back your strength in your back so you can return to doing the exercise and activities that you love most.

If you want tips for easing back pain, here’s free special guide with 9 top tips to keep active with less back pain.

Claim This Pilates Tips Report »


Pilates Tips Report - How You Can Exercise With a Bad Back


I hope this article is able to help you make a better decision for your health and if you think a friend or family member would benefit from reading this (or needs to read it), feel free to share it with them.


Dedicated to restoring your health,

Dr. Oscar Andalon, PT, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, USAW1, FMS, SFMA

San Diego’s Leading Back Pain Specialist at LEVEL4 PT & Wellness

P.S. Feel free to comment below on any past back pain experiences or on any other topics you would like read about in the near future. Look forward to hearing from you soon.  🙂

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