The 5 Best Low Impact Exercises For Back Pain According To A Physical Therapist

couple walking doing low impact exercises
couple walking doing low impact exercises

Low impact exercises for back pain…

Picture this: It’s a bright Monday morning. You’re ready to kickstart your week with a burst of energy, but there’s one problem – your back pain, a constant companion that keeps you from enjoying your favorite activities. You’re not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. But here’s the good news – not all exercises will exacerbate your back pain. In fact, the right kind of physical activity can be your ally in this battle.

As a physical therapist, I’ve seen firsthand how the power of low impact exercises can transform lives, especially for those suffering from back pain. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of low impact exercises – the unsung heroes that can strengthen your back, improve flexibility, and reduce pain, all without putting undue stress on your body.

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Benefits of Low Impact Exercises

Low impact exercises are often overshadowed by their high-intensity counterparts, but they hold immense benefits, especially for those dealing with back pain. Here’s why they’re an excellent choice:

  1. Reduced Risk of Injury: Unlike high-impact exercises, low impact activities place minimal stress on the joints. This makes them ideal for people with back pain, as they significantly reduce the risk of injury. A study published in the ‘Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation’ highlights how low-impact aerobic exercise can effectively reduce chronic low back pain.
  2. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Who said low impact means low intensity? Activities like swimming or cycling can still give your heart a good workout. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for overall cardiovascular health.
  3. Enhanced Strength and Flexibility: Low impact exercises often involve controlled movements that help in building strength, particularly in the core muscles, which are vital for back support. A study by the ‘National Institute of Health’ emphasizes the importance of core strength in alleviating back pain.
  4. Accessibility and Versatility: Regardless of age or fitness level, low impact exercises are accessible to almost everyone. They can be modified to suit your individual needs and capabilities, making them a versatile option for those starting their fitness journey or recovering from injury.
  5. Mental Health Benefits: Exercise isn’t just about the physical benefits. According to the ‘American Psychological Association’, regular physical activity, regardless of intensity, can boost mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, contributing to overall well-being.

Here are the top 5 best low-impact exercises…

Exercise 1: Walking

Walking is one of the simplest yet most effective low-impact exercises for alleviating back pain. It’s a natural movement that helps to strengthen the muscles in your feet, legs, hips, and torso, which are essential in supporting your spine. Harvard Health Publishing states that walking can help condition your back and provide relief from pain and stiffness. Moreover, walking improves circulation, ensuring that your spine and back muscles receive enough nutrients and oxygen.

Exercise 2: Swimming

Swimming is often touted as the perfect low impact exercise, especially for those suffering from back pain. The buoyancy of the water supports your body weight, reducing stress on the back and joints. According to Spine-health, swimming helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles without jarring or straining the back. It’s a full-body workout that improves overall strength, flexibility, and endurance, all of which are beneficial for a healthy back.

Exercise 3: Yoga

Yoga is renowned for its ability to improve flexibility, strength, and balance, all of which are crucial for a healthy back. Specific yoga poses can target the back muscles and spine, helping to alleviate pain and stiffness. Poses like Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow Stretch, and Downward-Facing Dog as particularly effective low impact exercises for strengthening and stretching the back muscles. Practicing yoga regularly can also enhance posture and spinal alignment.

Exercise 4: Pilates

Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and mindful movement, making it an excellent choice of low impact exercises for those with back pain. It emphasizes controlled movements that can help to alleviate pain, improve posture, and prevent future back issues. A study in the ‘Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy’ found that Pilates could effectively reduce chronic lower back pain. Exercises such as the Pelvic Tilt, Chest Lift, and Swimming in Pilates can specifically target and strengthen the muscles supporting the back.

Exercise 5: Cycling

Cycling stands out as a remarkable low impact exercise choice for those struggling with back pain. It’s an activity that helps to strengthen the lower body and core muscles without putting undue stress on the back. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) notes that cycling, especially on a stationary bike, can be highly beneficial for those with lower back pain, as it maintains the spine in a neutral position and reduces impact on the back. Regular cycling can also improve cardiovascular health, which is key to overall body wellness, including the health of the spinal tissues.

Tips for Incorporating Low Impact Exercises into your Routine

Tips for Incorporating Low Impact Exercises into your Routine

Incorporating low impact exercises into your daily routine can be a game-changer for managing and alleviating back pain. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Start Slow: If you’re new to exercise or recovering from an injury, begin with shorter, less intense sessions and gradually increase duration and intensity.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds during and after each activity. If something feels wrong or painful, stop and consult with a healthcare provider.
  3. Be Consistent: Regularity is key. Aim to incorporate these low impact exercises into your routine several times a week for the best results.
  4. Mix It Up: Variety in your exercise regimen can prevent boredom and work different muscle groups. Try combining different low impact exercises like walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, and cycling.
  5. Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with a physical therapist or a fitness expert to create a personalized exercise plan that’s tailored to your specific needs and back pain condition.

Ready to Get Relief From Back Pain?

If you’re struggling with back pain and you’re ready to finally get relief we’d like to offer you our back pain guide for FREE click here to download it.

I’ve prepared THIS GUIDE specifically for those enduring the relentless struggle of long-term back pain – encompassing upper, middle, and lower back pain – a kind of pain that becomes a constant, unwelcome companion in your life. Just click the link above to download it or call (360) 472-4369 to request the report.

Andrew Vertson

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