Exercises for People with Back Problems

Regardless of your level of back pain, or the back history you have, there should be a variety of exercises available to that strengthen the muscles of your back and for you to improve your overall health and well-being. If you have back problems or back pain, there are exercises you can do, in your home and beyond, to strengthen the muscles in your abdomen and back that support the spine. Some exercises may contribute to your goal of feeling better and living without back pain, while others may put too much pressure on the back and exacerbate your problem. There may be some exercises that you need to avoid, such as those that have a high impact with the ground, of others that involved violent collisions against certain objects or other athletes.

For example, if you are at risk for or have suffered from compression fractures of the vertebrae, you may want to avoid high-impact sports or activities that involve putting a lot of weight on the spine and discs. Such high impact activities include: football, basketball, snow skiing, sky diving, step aerobics, high-impact aerobics, and running.

Don't be dismayed if you enjoy some of these activities, such as jogging and aerobics. There are other activities that may be safe to you that also involve challenging workouts, and are fun to do.

Exercise in water: Water is one of the best mediums for people with advancing age, weak bones, or people who need a low impact environment to challenge their muscles to get better. There should be one gym in your area, to work out and get going with steady exercise routine that involves either swimming or pool exercises. Many YMCAs and gyms have pools, though you will want to have a schedule of it at your home for availability, as they may be closed at certain times for water aerobics and other classes. Whether it's in a heated pool or hot tub, many people with back pain benefit from exercising in water. Exercising in warm water offers several benefits, including:
  • Though water is a low gravity, low impact environment, it offers a significant resistance as you try to move through the water, while walking, swimming, and doing certain movements of your arms and legs. The resistance of water will help build muscle strength during exercise, with little risk to your bones and joints.
  • The buoyancy of water makes it possible to exercise in ways that you wouldn't on land. If your back is weak or fragile due to arthritis or osteoporosis, or past osteoporotic fractures, water will support these vulnerable structures, while enabling you to perform vigorous exercises that challenge the muscles you want to strengthen to support your back.
  • Warm water, from a hot tub or heated pool, allows your muscles to loosen and relax, decreasing the risk of strains and tears once you begin your water exercises. Also, relaxed and loose muscles provide the user with an overall feeling of relaxation and comfort.

The pool may be a great medium to do many of the types of exercises that you would do on dry land, or it may be a novel environment to try new things and challenge your muscles in a way that you haven't before.