You’re stuck at home while your friends are out having fun at the beach.
…Or reading a book on the couch when you’d rather be gardening.
…Or maybe you’re just gritting your teeth through the pain at your desk all day, trying to avoid glancing at the clock every few seconds to see when you can get out of your awful desk chair.
If this describes your life, you may be living with low back pain. And you’re probably ready to try just about anything to make it feel better.
Back pain has many different causes, but one thing that is well documented is that exercise is a great treatment option for low back pain. In fact, exercise and physical activity are proven to not only reduce pain but also improve movement quality for those who stick to a consistent movement routine.
Studies show that many types of exercise, from regular walking to a weightlifting program, are helpful in improving low back pain. But if you were to choose only one thing to do for exercise as a treatment for your back pain, what exercise method would give you the most bang for your buck? The best exercise for low back pain, according to the research, is actually…
The Best Exercise To Reduce Back Pain (according to research)
Drumroll, please! According to research, the best form of physical activity to reduce your low back pain is… Whatever form of exercise you can actually commit to doing consistently (daily is best). Surprised? Here’s the deal: the important thing is that you get moving, regardless of what that movement is exactly.
It’s true, based on the research, no one targeted exercise method is superior to another for creating long term improvements in back pain. Many have been studied, from Pilates to stationary cycling and more, and while they all improved most participant’s back pain, the overall results six months out were not noticeably different from one type of exercise to another.
Overall, the important key to creating improvement was consistently getting moving, regardless of the method.
How To Choose The Best Exercise For Your Situation
The exercise you choose for your low back needs to be an exercise that you can actually stick to. You can choose an exercise program that works for you by determining these three things:
1 | What exercise you actually enjoy doing
2 | What you’re physically capable of doing
3 | How much time you have to commit to this practice on a daily basis
Now that you have some realistic guidelines for choosing an exercise, let’s talk over a few quick-start options. To help you choose a favorite type of exercise for your low back pain, we’ve pulled together a couple of options for you that require little or no equipment, and can be done (just about) anywhere.
Yoga is a great choice, requiring nothing more than 10 to 60 minutes of time and an open flat space for practice. To make things easier and less slippery, you can use a towel or a yoga mat but it’s not required. One thing that does stand out in the research on exercise for back pain is that any training that improves overall core stabilization is helpful in treating low back pain, and yoga is famous for its focus on a healthy core.
Most yoga instructors do a great job of offering modifications to students that are nursing an injury, so be sure to mention that to your teacher before class begins. And if you’re not ready for an in-person class, you could always choose one of the many fantastic at-home yoga options available for free or purchase online.
The age-old practice of walking is one of the top choices for improving low back pain because it is simple to get started with no equipment, and accessible to just about everyone. It can look business casual – if you walk around the block with a coworker on your lunch break – or you can throw on your sneakers and sweats to go for a long morning jaunt.
Studies have noted how simple it is to see real results from a daily walking regimen because it’s a cheaper alternative to other forms of physical exercise and requires less planning. Saving money and moving more is a win-win!
Choose A Daily Movement Method And Get Moving!
Making your movement practice a habit takes time, and you should acknowledge your progress at each milestone to increase the chances you’ll stick with it. You just practiced yoga for 14 days straight? Reward yourself with a new yoga mat! Walked your 2 mile loop with Fido every day for a month? Book yourself a professional massage focused on your low back!
Many different types of exercise have a positive effect on low back pain. The important thing is to choose one and commit to a regular movement practice. Try one of these two cheap, simple exercise methods that require zero equipment to get started today.