Health & Fitness, Fitness: workout to stay healthy

Back pain: how can fitness help you?

While it is often referred to as the “disease of the century”, back pain is not inevitable. How can you relieve back pain through fitness, which postures should you adopt in your daily life and which exercises can help you? Develop your own personalised exercise routine to maintain your fitness and well-being.

Fitness: your best ally against back pain


Three-quarters of the population between the ages of 20 and 90 will at some point be affected by lumbar pain. Back pain can occur occasionally, as a result of poor posture, or it can persist and become chronic, causing discomfort and stiffness in the spine.

Although it is tempting to stop physical activity when you are in pain, practising a suitable sport can relieve your discomfort. Lack of muscle tone and physical activity are often blamed for backache. Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is, therefore, one of the best ways to prevent back pain. By stimulating your muscles and strengthening your abs, you will improve your back, and the results will be felt quickly. Physical exercise also stimulates the joints and helps improve overall fitness, thus preventing back pain and other chronic problems. 

In the event of back pain, the goal is to strengthen muscles gently, with limited impact and without rushing your body. Fitness and low-impact activities, such as swimming or walking are recommended: the aim is to get the whole body working without straining it. At home or in the gym, some fitness machines are particularly suitable for avoiding lumbar pain:

  • The stationary bike: equipped with a comfortable seat instead of a saddle, it protects the back during movement while working the lower body.
  • The elliptical bike: this device mimics the natural movements of running by keeping the body in contact with the machine. Since there is no impact, the back is protected. This cardio workout helps tone the whole body harmoniously.

In any case, pay attention to your body’s reactions and choose a physical activity that you enjoy: this is your best chance to keep going over the long-term.

The correct postures to protect your back

Adopting good posture on a daily basis is the first reflex to acquire in order to avoid developing lumbar pain:

  • Distribute the weight on each side when carrying heavy loads.
  • Sit down to get dressed rather than putting yourself off balance on one foot.
  • Bend your knees, crouch down and lean forward to pick up an object from the floor, then use your legs to get up.
  • Use your armrests or your upper legs to sit or stand up.
  • When sitting, keep your back as straight as possible and make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
  • When gardening or cleaning, don’t hesitate to use the front split position: one leg in front, slightly bent, and the other leg stretched out behind.

These good postures are not necessarily instinctive, but they allow you to better distribute the effort over the whole body, especially on the legs, to protect the spine. By feeling the benefits of these new reflexes on your back, you will quickly adopt them. You can think of them as training, the first step in saying goodbye to back pain!

Fitness: your back pain routine


To combat lumbar pain, opt for long-duration stretching and cardio-training sessions that are of low intensity. Aim to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles with sheathing movements. Involving the hamstrings, which are seldom used in daily activities, also offers good results. A few simple exercises to perform at home can be easily integrated into your workouts.

Stretching your lumbar muscles without any equipment

No matter which workout you choose, start by warming up first. This back stretching exercise will get you in shape, it does not require any equipment and can be practised anywhere:

  • Get down on all fours, knees on the ground, then, while breathing in, slowly hollow your back by raising your head.
  • As you exhale, curve your back and put your gaze on your knees while breathing out.
  • Repeat these two movements as many times as you wish.
  • Remember to get up slowly. Once your lumbar muscles are stretched, you’re ready to start a longer-lasting activity!

Two elliptical bike exercises to adopt during training

On an elliptical bike, the movement is natural, which is perfect for improving your physical condition gently. Choose a fairly low resistance setting and focus on 45-minute sessions, increasing the difficulty gradually if you are a beginner.

To strengthen the abdominal girth, try to do a few sets without using the handles, at very slow speed at first. While you’re pedalling, look straight ahead and keep your head up. Your arms will swing around as though you’re running, and you will work your whole upper body.

Once you are comfortable, you can begin the second exercise: back-pedalling. By pedalling in the opposite direction, you’ll be working different muscle groups, including the hip extensor muscles and hamstrings. This exercise is more intense than pedalling forward: be careful if you suffer from knee pain. Whatever you do, listen to your body and don’t strain yourself.

You can combine the benefits of both exercises by working out without holding the handles when pedalling backwards. These low-intensity workouts are perfect to end a session, in the form of active recovery. After training, don’t forget to stretch! Day after day, you will see the effectiveness of your new exercise routine. Once you’ve forgotten about back pain, all you’ll think about is how much fun you’ll get out of every fitness session.

Check out our Health & Fitness page for more advice.