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Getting active to reduce lower back pain

By Ryan Byrne, Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Lower back pain is a common medical complaint. Although very painful and often debilitating, most lower back pain is not caused by a serious problem and will resolve through a dose of physical activity. Remember that your spine and surrounding muscles are designed for movement!1

Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of factors such as physical inactivity, muscle weakness, poor posture or injury.

Physical inactivity can cause loss of muscle strength and fitness and delay your recovery. So, it’s important to stay active as part of your treatment and management of lower back pain.2

Exercises that may help to relieve your lower back pain include:

  1. Walking: is a low-impact exercise that improves circulation, which can help reduce inflammation and pain in the lower back.3
  2. Strength training: exercises that target muscles in your lower back, such as glute bridges, can help strengthen muscles and reduce pain.4
  3. Pilates: can assist in increasing hip strength, posture and core stability, which are linked to easing lower back pain.2
  4. Swimming and bike riding: both are great low impact exercises that improve strength and fitness and can often be completed without aggravating lower back pain.3

Reducing the intensity of your activity is another way you can remain active when experiencing lower back pain. Here’s two examples:

  1. If you enjoy gardening, staying active may mean you avoid jobs like digging, but continue to potter around in the garden.
  2. If you are a long-distance runner, staying active may mean decreasing the distance you run.

Talk to your Exercise Physiologist, GP or other healthcare professional before starting an exercise program if you have lower back pain. They can assist in choosing exercises that are safe and appropriate for your current levels of strength and fitness.

Get Active Victoria has free Pilates and strength workouts that are suitable for beginners. To access the workouts, log in to your Get Active Victoria account or join up today.



  1. Searle, A., Spink, M., Ho, A., & Chuter, V. (2015). Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Rehabilitation, 29(12), 1155-1167.
  2. Hayden, J. A., van Tulder, M. W., & Tomlinson, G. (2005). Systematic review: strategies for using exercise therapy to improve outcomes in chronic low back pain. Annals of Internal Medicine, 142(9), 776-785.
  3. Shnayderman, I., & Katz-Leurer, M. (2010). An aerobic walking programme versus muscle strengthening programme for chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 24(5), 408-418.
  4. Macedo, L. G., Maher, C. G., Latimer, J., & McAuley, J. H. (2009). Motor control exercise for persistent, nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review. Physical Therapy, 89(1), 9-25.

Last updated: June 4, 2024 at: 3:43 pm

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