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Is It Safe to Exercise with a Bad Back? Let’s talk about exercise and back pain…

Updated: May 27, 2019

Last week I had a question asked by one of our patients, Jackie, 58, from Parker… And it’s one that we get asked often, “Is it ok to exercise when my back is hurting?

I’ve just got into a good routine sticking to the gym and working out three times a week, and I really don’t want to stop…”

I get the frustration, and I also know that the thought of doing any movement at all when you’re going through pain might feel a little scary… You don’t want to run the risk of aggravating it any more, 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. And you don’t want to wake up one day to find that you can no longer roll out of bed easily, walk down the road, or even drive because what you did, 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 housebound, with heat and ice packs until it magically disappears. You CAN keep moving! In fact, not moving at all can make your back pain worse!

Here’s why… If you suffer from lower back pain that comes and goes, gentle walking with exercises designed to improve lower back strength and movement added in, will make a big difference. 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 your back muscles strong that hold you up right. Stretching combined with walking will improve your back 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 100% is ok to exercise even if you’ve got back pain… What exercise can you be doing? Because of course, too much exercise, or exercise that’s strenuous could make it worse or keep it hanging around longer. Introducing Clinical Pilates… Clinical Pilates helps build strength, flexibility and stamina. It requires you to concentrate on specific muscles in the body and teaches proper movements from your core muscles, which improve back and abdominal strength. 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 and reduces any tension in stress-carrying muscles (a.k.a your back!)

For people with lower back pain, stretching is important. Stretching the muscles in your legs help to increase range of movement in your hips, taking the stress off your lower back – which in addition increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in, taking care of the muscles in your back. It’s also one of the best forms of exercise to maintain and improve a healthy posture. Great for your back, stopping back pain in its tracks, and add to that, it feels great when you can walk around tall, confident and sure footed!

So, there you have it, gentle walks and Clinical Pilates. These will help you gain back your strength, so you can return to doing the exercise you love the most.

Call me for a free 30- minute “Meet and Greet,” to see if Clinical Pilates is right for you…Dr. Rebecca Hoeck PT, DPT 303.808.9807 or I look forward to meeting you and getting you back to YOUR life again!!



Dr. Rebecca Hoeck PT, DPT, CWC, CIDN, MPT-DMI

Physical Therapist & Pilates Instructor

Owner and Clinic Director

Intelligent Motion Therapy, LLC

Parker, Colorado


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