• Luke Nelson

Back pain? How to keep going in the gym

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Suffering from low back pain? You don't need to stop everything in the gym! Here are some great alternative exercises to keep you going.


Whilst you are recovering from low back pain, it's really important to maintain or build your strength, but how can you do this without aggravating your back?

First up, what exercises are generally well tolerated with low back pain?

  • Upper body horizontal push e.g. bench press, push ups

  • Upper body vertical pull e.g. chin-up, lat pull down

  • Machine weights: leg extension and leg curl

  • Calf e.g. bent knee and straight knee weighted calf raise

  • Core: Plank variations, pallof press, deadbug, bird dog

Then what about those exercises that need modifying? This list includes:

  1. Deadlift & Hinge patterns

  2. Squat

  3. Rows

1. Hinge & deadlift patterns

Firstly with hinge and deadlift patterns, here are some progressions, starting at the least load on the low back with a bridge, and working up to the higher loads of deadlifts and kettlebell swings.

  • Bridge

  • Hip thruster

  • Tall kneeling hinge bodyweight

  • Tall kneeling hinge banded

  • Tall kneeling hinge banded with weight

  • Standing banded pull through

  • Standing banded hip thrust

  • Isometric rack pull

  • Single leg deadlift/arabesque

  • Kettlebell deadlift

  • High bar Trap bar deadlift

  • Rack pull from knees

  • Sumo deadlift

  • Romanian Deadlift

  • Traditional deadlift

  • Kettlebell swings


2. Squat patterns

Next onto squat patterns. Here are some modifications for the squat, starting with the lowest load on the back, the goblet squat, and then progressing to low bar back squats:

  • Goblet squat

  • Front squat

  • Box squat

  • High bar back squat

  • Low back back squat



3. Horizontal pulling & rowing patterns

Next onto horizontal pull & row patterns. Here are some modifications for the horizontal pull, starting with the lowest load on the back, the inverted row, and then progressing to barbell bent over row:

  • Inverted row

  • Chest supported row

  • Knee supported row

  • Tripod stance row

  • Dumbbell bent over row

  • Barbell bent over row



What about other options?

Other leg exercises that tend to be well tolerated with low back pain include:

  • Lunge patterns

  • Calf e.g. bent knee and straight knee weighted calf raise

  • Machine weights: Leg extension and leg curl

  • Upper body horizontal push e.g. bench press, push ups

  • Upper body vertical pull e.g. chin-up, lat pull down

  • Core: Plank variations, pallof press, deadbug, bird dog


So as you can see, there are plenty of options to continue exercising when suffering from low back pain!


For further assistance with your back pain, please don't hesitate to contact us at www.healthhp.com.au

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