6 Exercises That You Can Do With a Bad Back

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Read on for 6 exercises that you can do with a bad back, that could actually help, and to read about the importance of the power of recovery.


6 exercises you can do with a bad back


I had a big wake-up call about my health recently, when my leg gave way and I was in absolute agony in my hip and back. Both have been problem areas for me for years now. The pain I had that day though, was the worst pain I have had so far and I decided enough was enough and I need to help myself.


Previously when I have been to the doctors about my back, I was sent to a physiotherapist and taught several exercises to help strengthen my back and core, to hopefully prevent future pain and aid in my quest to become fitter.


The number one thing that my Physiotherapist and GP both told me to do to help my back, was to lose weight. Not an easy thing to hear, but I know it’s the truth. In the last 2 weeks I have lost 4 lbs, so I am working on that side of things.


My fitness and health goal for 2018 is to finally be pain-free, to lose weight and get a lot fitter for the sake of my health. I am going back to doing the exercises that my Physiotherapist suggested to me back when I was sensible enough to visit them, it is now time to actually heed that advice.


6 Exercises that you can do with a bad back and that might actually help*


*Obviously you should consult a Doctor first before starting any exercise regime if you have chronic issues, and should never do any exercise that causes you to be in more pain than you were before if possible. The exercises below are just ideas if your pain is mostly bearable and you are able to exercise.


Exercise wise, I was told to try the following to ease myself back into exercise and try to strengthen my back.




Walking is the cheapest option there will ever be for exercising and it has the bonus of getting you out in the fresh air and hopefully enjoy the views if you have somewhere pretty to walk. My personal favourite place to walk is the beach, the sand makes for a soft cushion when stepping, so there’s less impact on your back, plus it can be a great workout for your legs. Not to mention the positive mental benefits of being by the sea.




Kettle Bells


My Physio used to get me to lift a reasonably light kettle bell, gripping it by the handle with both hands between my feet and lifting it up with straight arms. Then bending to place it back onto the floor, letting go, standing straight and then repeating all over again. I started with reps of 10 at a time for this and built up over time.

You can also eventually upgrade to a heavier kettle bell and try different exercises with it. The one above though, is great for helping to strengthen your back and core apparently. I am starting to re-do these exercises now.




Squats are great for strengthening your legs and bum, which apparently can take some of the stress away from your back. The key is to try to lean back into your heels when you do them, rather than putting the weight onto your toes. To practice getting used to this, my physio had me using a dressing gown tie around our stair banister downstairs, to help support my weight as I learned to lean back.

Sets of ten at a time several times a day is a good start, then of course building up the numbers within your comfort zone.




Swimming is a great exercise as your body feels much less strain with the support of the water. It is also really good for building up general fitness and helping any weight loss that you need to achieve.


Woodovis swimming pool




Both Yoga and Pilates involve a lot of stretching and some poses/positions can help to strengthen your core and back whilst not putting too much strain on your back. Improvements in flexibility can help with back issues as well apparently, well anything is worth a try!

However, some positions aren’t good for people with really bad backs, so do check with the class teacher or do some research online if trying it at home first. Hopefully as time goes on, you can build up to being able to do more and more poses.




I have to admit, that this was my least favourite exercise that the physio recommended. Planks aren’t easy and can make you feel like a real weakling when you realise just how little time you can hold them for. They are though, so good for improving your core strength and you can get a real sense of achievement from adding a few more seconds and eventually minutes to how long you can hold in position for.


They also emphasised to me though just how important not pushing myself if any exercise was too painful though, and just how important recovery is as well.


The Power of Recovery




A good massage, in particular a sports massage can be great for relieving tension in your muscles after you’ve been working out. Again though with a bad back, make sure this is something that is safe for you to do according to your Doctor or physio. I was actually going to go for a sports massage recently and then cancelled as my back and hip were so painful that the idea of someone touching them wasn’t appealing at all.

It is definitely something that I’ll be trying though, as it is supposed to be brilliant for a better recovery by raising blood circulation to the affected spot.




Sleep is so important for both our physical and mental health. I think we all know how much better we feel after a good night sleep and how much more full of energy we are. You can help yourself to have a better nights sleep by turning screens off at least an hour before bed, going to bed at a reasonable hour and by making sure you have a good supportive mattress like a Tempur one.

Sleeping on a great quality mattress like a Tempur mattress can provide support to recover from a workout, as the material offers optimum comfort for recovery. As someone with back and hip issues that used to wake me in the night all the time, I definitely know the value of sleeping on a good mattress.


Knowing when to stop and rest


You really do need to listen to your body when it comes to exercise, especially if like me you have body issues that cause you pain. Know what to stop and not push yourself too far. You really do need to be kind to yourself and take rest days when you need them.


This is always a popular time of year to be trying to get fitter and/or lose weight, as with spring arriving and the summer suddenly seeming much closer…


Do you suffer from a bad back? If so do you have any exercise tips? I’m definitely on a mission to get fitter, healthier, slimmer and to get rid of my pain this year, wish me luck!


Stevie x

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  1. 20 March 2018 / 11:10 am

    Back pain can be excruciating can’t it? These are all doable and not too strenuous – swimming is definitely a great option.

  2. 20 March 2018 / 11:23 am

    Some great ideas here, I hadn’t considered doing Kettlebells for a bad back but I would be keen to give it a go. My back goes through phases, it’s currently doing ok and I am working hard on strengthening my core to support it.

    Hope your continue to feel better and well done on the weight loss so far, it’s not easy as a busy Mum x

  3. 21 March 2018 / 1:45 pm

    I love aquafit. Even though it’s full of old ladies! It’s a great workout. My back hurts when I’m in bed which is probably a sign I need a new mattress!

  4. 22 March 2018 / 9:42 am

    Lots of great tips here. My husband suffers from a bad back from time to time, and it’s a kind of vicious circle in that he should exercise it to strengthen it, but it can be too painful. I will show him these tips as I am not sure he’s thought of some of them! :)

    • 22 March 2018 / 9:53 am

      I have exactly the same issue, that’s why knowing when to rest is so important as well :)

      Stevie x

  5. 22 March 2018 / 1:00 pm

    These are great tips. So often when you have back pain, exercise is the absolute last thing you want to do, but it can be really helpful. I can’t rate swimming enough for back pain, it’s just often the thought of getting in a swimming costume isn’t the most appealing! I really hope your back pain improves and hopefully disappears soon.

  6. 22 March 2018 / 10:44 pm

    Thankfully my back seems to be holding up, which is amazing as the rest of me is falling apart! I also need to lose some weight and know this would make a massive difference. I did pilates for a while and that helped with everything, I’d be keen to get back to that. Mich x

  7. 23 March 2018 / 9:44 am

    My Mum has suffered with a bad back for years and years and she swears by a good mattress and regular sports massage. Together they keep her going x