Back pain sucks, this we know. But sadly, it’s not an excuse for skipping your workout. On the contrary: Exercise could help your spine specifically. According to researchers at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, using exercise as a therapeutic tool can improve impairments in back flexibility and strength as well as relieve pain. Great…but if you are currently hurting, where the hell do you even start? We have some thoughts.
Instead of running, try swimming. High-impact aerobic exercises like running and jogging are jarring to the back. A low-impact workout that’s just as effective but much more forgiving is swimming, since the water provides both support and resistance.
Instead of stationary bikes, try recumbent bikes. Water is not always accessible to everyone. A great non-pool option is the stationary bike, but leaning over to reach the handlebars in spin class is often tough on your spine. Make the recumbent bike (you know, the one where you lean back and the pedals are out in front of you) your friend.
Instead of cardio aerobics, try hot yoga. You like a group class, but you can’t keep stomping to Beyoncé. Surprisingly, vinyasa yoga—especially in a class setting—is fast paced enough to get your heart pumping and your sweat pouring. (The heat also loosens up any tension.) The key here, though, is to communicate to your teacher what you physically can and can’t do. Once aware of any limitations, he or she should be able to tailor sequences to your abilities.