If you have a bad back, general exercise is a great thing to do. But knowing which types of exercise place your back under the least strain is important.
The temptation is to assume that because exercise classes are supervised they are the safest bet. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. General circuit type activities can contain exercises that aren’t always sympathetic to your body. Sit-Ups, Russian Twists, Burpees and Mountain Climbers can all exacerbate low back problems, for example.
Running has a reputation for being very tough on your joints, but actually, as long as you build up gradually, running is a very good form of exercise. Varying your running surface and doing some post-run stretching is also very helpful.
Cycling is fantastic cardiovascular exercise, and great for your knees. But it can place quite a strain on your lower back and neck. Key to mitigating this strain is to sit up as straight as possible for a minute in every twenty.
As long as your shoulders are in good condition, swimming is one of the best general exercises anybody can do. Front crawl in particular is fantastic for people with hip and lower back problems.
Turning from side to side in the water, whilst kicking your legs and bringing your arms over is very taxing for your core muscles, encouraging good stabilisation of the lumbar region. But whilst this is going on, your spine is in a neutral posture, which means you are unlikely to aggravate any symptoms and even less likely to do yourself harm.
The range of movements required in the hips and shoulders is also great for peripheral joint mobility, which is useful for removing strain from the spine long term.
Advising people on what exercise they can do safely is one of the things that chiropractors can help with. Specific adaptations can be made to allow safe participation of most activities, and introducing complementary exercises can increase performance as well as reduce injury risk.