Total Health

Top sports for people with back pain

June 30th, 2021 by
Category: Back pain Dr. Ashleigh O'Brien

male swimming breastroke laps in pool

As Chiropractors, we regularly see patients coming into our practices with back pain. The pain can range in intensity and frequency and can have many causes, such as poor posture and repetitive stresses to the area. Participating in sport is a great way to keep fit and active, but certain sports can also put unnecessary pressure on your back and aggravate injuries that are already present.

If you are suffering from back pain, it is best to avoid sports that involve forceful twisting of the back or jarring movements, such as running, golf, tennis, gymnastics and football. Another sport to avoid if you have a back injury is cycling. While it is a great aerobic exercise, the position that the spine is placed into while on a bike can aggravate back injuries. 

Five of the best sports for people with back pain

1. Swimming

Exercising in the water is one of the best ways to exercise without aggravating the back. The water takes pressure off your joints and uses your core muscles without the jarring impact that running and contact sports can have. Backstroke and breaststroke are the best strokes to begin with as they put the least amount of pressure on the low back. If you are just starting lap swimming, consider using a snorkel, as well as your goggles so that you are able to keep your face in the water as  much as possible and avoid having to rotate to breathe.

2. Water aerobics

The temperature of the water and the speed at which it moves allows the muscles to relax, relieving inflammation and pain. Exercises using the resistance of the water, such as water aerobics and walking in the water, can help to build strength and flexibility. The body’s buoyancy reduces the compression on the low back, allowing for pain-free movements. Walking in water enables the muscles to strengthen to help avoid future occurrences of back pain. If walking in the water feels too easy, you can add further resistance by holding a kick board in the water in front of you or holding weights while walking.

3. Yoga

Focusing on exercises that strengthen core muscles and increase flexibility in the hips will help to decrease back pain being felt. Yoga helps to move the body through all planes of movement and helps to balance the strength and flexibility of the muscles that support your spine. There are certain poses that are better for back pain sufferers than others so ensure that you are focusing on more gentle exercises. 

4. Walking

This low-impact exercise can help to increase the flexibility of muscles while also strengthening muscles in both your legs and your core which help to stabilise your spine. Walking can be a great exercise for back pain sufferers, especially with the correct shoes and walking surfaces. It is best to avoid walking on concrete paths for extended periods, especially if you experience back pain from it. Also ensure that you have supportive walking shoes.

5. Tai Chi

A form of martial arts that combines slow movement with deep breathing. During this exercise your body is in constant motion as you flow through one pose into the next. Tai chi helps to strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and pelvic area that help to support the lower back. It improves balance and flexibility and increases awareness of posture as you move through the poses.

If you have any questions about the best sports for your back or which sports to avoid if you have a back injury, contact your local Chiropractor or trusted healthcare professional and they will be happy to answer them for you. If you experience back pain while doing any exercises, stop immediately and seek professional advice.


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