One Great Answer: Should I Stop Exercising Because of My Lower Back Pain?’s "One GREAT Answer" series takes your health and fitness questions to the world’s smartest experts.

"I’m having lower back pain. Do I have to stop training, or can I work around the injury?"

-Carl P., San Antonio


Here’s the thing about back pain: Many times, your back isn’t the issue. The pain is often the result of weakness somewhere else in your body. So your best option is to stay active -- even if it’s only at a low intensity -- to try and address your problem. I rarely have someone cease working out because of back pain, because doing some type of exercise will help him feel better in both the short and long term.

When you’re first dealing with back pain, a simple mix of foam rolling and light activity will improve blood flow throughout your body, nourishing your muscle tissues and releasing endorphins that help you feel better. Try these two exercises to test the waters and see if you’re capable of doing more. If the pain persists, see your doctor.


Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for 5 seconds, and return to the starting position. Perform two or three sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.


Kneel on your left knee, squeeze your left glute and brace your abdominal muscles while keeping your body upright. Then reach up with your left hand as high as you can and bend slightly to the right. Reach out and back with your right hand, and turn toward the right. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Then repeat on your other leg. Perform five reps on each side.


Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., is the co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.