Sports for People With Back Pain: 5 Safest & Effective Choices

Oh, oh, ouch… It hurts!

That’s your back “talking” to you with pain.

No wonder, as roughly 80% of the population experiences backache at least once at some point in life. More often than not, CrossFit athletes are prone to lower back pain caused by numerous reasons. Then there’s chronic back pain that may haunt people for their entire lifetime.

Source: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

However, spine pain does not prevent them from choosing safe and effective sports. As a matter of fact, some physical activities can even help fight this health issue.

How can sports be helpful in reducing your backache? What are the safest sports activities to try, if you’re struggling with pain in your spine? Find the answers in this article.

Back Pain and Sports Activities: What You Should Know

“The majority of back pains aren’t really that serious,” emphasizes Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse and contributing writer for Assisted Living.

“Despite that, you shouldn’t take those for granted, especially if the pain is chronic. Schedule a consultation with your doctor and inquire about the physical activities you’re allowed to perform. If you have already tried to do a workout, for instance, and you can’t stand practicing any of the positions, because the pain is unbearable, consult a healthcare specialist immediately. In other cases, you’re good to go, as movement and exercises are scientifically-proven ways to block pain and even more.”

Nancy shares the list of positive effects that sports activities can offer your aching back. Here’s what they do:

  • Make your spine stronger and more flexible
  • Allow discs to exchange fluids, hydrating and nourishing them
  • Provide a soft massage
  • Support muscles to achieve stabilization and comfort
  • Relieve pain (due to the release of adrenaline, serotonin, endorphins, etc.)

You can alleviate pain and lumbar strain with back-friendly sports. What are they? See below.

Top 5 Safest and Helpful Sports for People Living with Back Pain

1) Yoga

Yoga tops the list of the safest and most effective sports that people with back pain should definitely try. Based on the study, yogic exercises are used for successful treatment of low back pain.

Yoga Poses back painSource: Rawan Yasser on Unsplash

This article lists yoga poses specifically for the back to help you relieve spinal discomfort. They ease moderate to severe spasms and provide functional improvements. Start slow and follow the principles of self-awareness and mindfulness while doing yoga.

2) Low-intensity aerobics and workouts

The research shows that you can reduce your back pain by 52.5% with exercise, particularly aerobics. Aerobic exercises get blood flow to your muscles, stimulating and strengthening them to decrease stiffness and tackle the lower back pain instantly.

Here’s how to go about small-force training:

I consider simpler-looking exercises

In fact, Matt Scarfo, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Resident Training & Nutrition Expert at Lift Vault, suggests that “If you prefer heavy workouts but suffer from back pain, you should replace deadlifts with alternatives. The top five of those are: a) barbell squats, b) step ups, c) prisoner good mornings, d) Bulgarian split squats, and e) kettlebell swings.

When you can’t forgive yourself for such a waste of time in your bodybuilding schedule due to soreness in your spine, there’s a trick for you – a deficit deadlift. Among all deadlifts, deficit pulls are the safest workouts for a bad back.”

If spinal pain is your partner for today, it won’t prevent you from building a huge back with deficit deadlifts.

Alternatively, take advantage of several specific core exercises.

Find dedicated stretches for lower back pain

Beware that the wrong type of stretch can harm your back. Bad stretches can actually exacerbate your pain. Learn more about the worst vs the best stretches for back pain and do healthier stretching exercises instead of the harmful ones.

Walk and run in moderation

Walking is by far the safest activity for individuals with a sore spine. On top of that, it’s highly effective as an intervention for low back pain, science says.

What about running?

Running exercise, if done in moderation, strengthens the intervertebral disc and reduces spinal pain.

Aren’t you dressed yet for a short run?

If it’s not the most convenient time for you right now, set an alarm for your running retreat tomorrow, get out of bed, and enjoy the morning run benefits outlined here.

Hop on an exercise bike

Backache sufferers can benefit from using exercise bikes. Such aerobic practice can keep your spinal structure healthy and work as a pain fighter.

Don’t have an exercise bike at home?

Not a problem. Motivate yourself to go to the gym and hop on it there.

3) Cycling

Biking is a rather controversial sport, in this case.

Source: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

On the one hand, it promotes the performance of the musculoskeletal system and builds endurance. On the other – cyclists can easily hurt their backs, causing even more pain, mostly as a result of improper body positioning that leads to increased spinal stress.

Whether you try it outdoors or indoors, doing stationary bike workouts, for example, remember to maintain a proper biking posture.

And again: stick to the principle of moderation, starting a cycling regimen.

4) Swimming

Spine surgeons state that swimming reduces nerve pain provoked by lumbar disc herniation. That’s why it can be a perfect sport activity for people tormented by agony in their backs.

Soak up the benefits of swimming and aquatic exercises by using the following tips:

chandler smith before crossfit games event 1 swim Moves to Get You Stronger for CrossFit
  • Begin with mild water exercises
  • Try pool therapy
  • Make the safest choice and opt for spine-friendly strokes: backstroke and freestyle
  • Don’t overindulge in swimming workouts
  • Avoid hyperextension

5) Easy rock climbing

Climbers get inexpensive and powerful therapy, because climbing has been proven to demonstrate a positive effect on chronic low back pain. Low-volume climbs are beneficial in a therapeutic dosage.

What should you start with if you’re a complete noob in this sport?

According to Climbing House, indoor gym climbing is the best solution for a first-timer, even if you’re not in top physical condition.

Safe and Effective Sports for Bad Backs: Key Takeaways

Back pain is not an automatic sentence to an immobile life. On the contrary, movement can save you from these sufferings. And there are some great sports to choose from.

We’ve given you the safest choices with the highest potential to fix your back pain problem: yoga, low-impact aerobics, cycling, swimming, and rock climbing.

In addition, don’t forget about practicing spinal hygiene regularly as a preventive measure against a variety of complications in the future.

Keep your spine healthy and pain-free.