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Safest Exercises for Back?


I injured my back 6 months ago, not serious, i strained it. I went back to the doctors today and she said I have a weak back(spinal erector)....
So I have been referred to see a Physio, I should be seen by them in a few of weeks, couple of months at most.

What I wanted to know is what exercise is safe for the back?
I was thinking exercise bike?

I still want to stay fit without putting pressure on my back.



So you injured it 6 months ago and went BACK to the doctors today. Why did you go back? Continued pain? When did you see the doctor before and what did he/she say? What symptoms do you have now and did you have when you initially hurt it? How did you initially hurt it? What is your previous and current training like?

I hate to tell you this, but if you don't want to put any extra pressure on your back, you better not get out of bed. The moment you stand up the pressure immediately increases in your back! Sorry, the sarcasm is strong in me today. But seriously, the doc said it is a muscle strain and that you have a "weak back" (I hate that "diagnosis" but that's a totally separate rant). If there are no other pathologies other than a muscle strain, go train! You don't have to load up a bar heavy but go do something that gets your body moving instead of sitting on a bike that keeps you in a hips flexed position! Start with some mobility drills for your whole whole body (ankles, hips, tspine, etc), some body weight squats, lunges, pushups, pullups. Do something that gets your body going and moving properly.

If you are having ongoing symptoms and feel you have been misdiagnosed, then go see another doctor. But from the diagnosis you've given and information you've given, you just need to start moving.


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@Levelheaded.... Thanks for the answer. Yeah I wasn't completely satisfied with my doctor's opinion.
Ok, what happened was, I was doing Deadlifts in september, the next day my back was in complete pain, I couldn't move it well. The pain lasted a few days and then it lead to just being sore for a further week. During the time of pain, I went to the doctors(in september) and he wasn't concerned at all, he just said you strained your back. Rest, and all will be well. Thats all the advice I got.

So, i decided to be smart and not doing any workout for a couple of months. A couple of months turned into 6months. So, I rejoined my gym lastweek, I did some light cardio(20mins on the cross trainer), just to ease my way back into training. The next day i noticed that my back had a slight ache... It's been here for a week now, and feels slightly weaker, i notice it even when I was walking to work today. There is no pain, it didn't hurt, just a very mild ache on the same spot's where I hurt in back in september. I went to the doctor's again today cos I was concerned that a very light cardio workout gave me a mild ache on my back for a week.

He told me it was my spinal erector(the muscle that runs along either side of the spine) that was aching and that its due to a weak back.

The pain that I got in sept' and the mild ache i'm getting now is on my lower back, and mid back.
He said there was nothing wrong with my spine and that the problem is muscular.

I Hear ya... push ups, body weight squats, lunges, pull ups are what I want to get back doing.

My training routine was 5 days workout, 1x arms & shoulders, 1x push ups/pull ups day, 3 times cardio(it could be anything from HIIT sprints, rowing machine, plyometrics). I also did alot of abs workout.

The day I injured my back was when I was doing deadlifts, it was the first timme I have ever tried it.

So, if the issue is muscular, you recommend still working out?

Thanks again!


I do not know many medical terms but swimming wouldn't be a bad thing in my eyes. A zero degree environment would place NO stress on your back. All while still working the muscles. It helps me to feel much better, in many ways.

Infinite resistance FTW!! lol


If the issue is muscular, I recommend finding why you initially got the injury and work towards fixing that issue and perform exercises that do not re-aggravate the injury.

So your back hurt after the first time you did deadlifts....did you ever have you form critiqued? Had you been properly instructed on how to do them?

Then the doctor told you to just rest it, so you don't workout for 6 months. That is the type of advice I hate. It is also the type of advice that somebody who does not have the knowledge to give more detailed information will give. I'm not saying that the diagnosis of "muscle strain" is wrong, but his advice isn't great either. So you rest and don't do any training, meanwhile whatever underlying pathology you had that caused the muscle strain, whether it be weakness to the lumbar stabilizers, mobility restraints, poor technique, etc. continues to not be corrected and possibly worsens during a period of prolonged inactivity.

What are your goals? Why are you lifting? I ask because you seem to have a poorly set up training protocol. 2 days of upper body and 3 days of cardio/plyos. Where is the lifting for your legs on a regular basis? Also, you say you did a lot of abs workout. What did your abs workout consist of?


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Not to mention that unless proper lumbar stability is maintained before and after fatigue sets in, that excessive lumbar rotation occurs rather than the rotation coming from the hips, placing a lot of stress on the low back.


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To the OP... I'm not sure if you're ready for even this, but given that DLs aggravated your situation, you might look into single-leg lifts instead. For example, single-leg squats and single-leg DLs done with a couple light dumbbells. You'll find the working leg taxed just has much as it was previously, but you've just taken a heroic load off your spinal erectors.

Also... no, wait. Do this first. ...take a look at Dr. Stuart McGill's ideas, exercises, and advice on training the back. Guy's a genius. Start with...


No problem! Two years of working directly with elite collegiate level swimmers and divers helps you realize a lot when it comes to aquatic activity. Majority of injuries I worked on during that time: shoulders and low backs.


Good to know which side you injured it on, if its a spinal flexion or extension issue, good to know which. Some people have horrible lumbopelvic rhythm and will naturally drift towards lumbar flexion when bending even without a load.

These same people will also usually have an abnormally hard time with exercises such as planks in that they cannot keep a neutral spine. What feels neutral for these individuals is losing that natural lordosis, they have to be trained to keep it while in different positions.


I'm 57 and occasionally have back issues. I'd suggest after rehab on the back you start some reverse hyperextensions without weight. There is no pressure or at least not much pressure on the erectors and it is a great exercise by itself or as a rehab exercise. I wear iron boots that I bought from Atomic Athletic (google them), lean across an elevated bench and do them. I swear by these. No expensive bench is needed.


OP: If the erectors are weak what are you going to strengthen them?


If you have a desk job, sitting at that same position all day keyboarding will do a job on the lumbar disks. You lose lordosis, which is the normal concave position of the lumbar region. Prolonged sitting flattens the curve. The hip flexors get tight, also. When you deadlifted, you may have rounded the low back, and since it may have, from prolonged postural faults and bad alignment, pushed you over the edge. This is not a diagnosis, but could be the most likely scenario, based on our American way of life. Plenty of back bends, and hip flexor stretches, evolving into strenthening the erector muscles(insert punch line here) will most likely ease the symptoms and prepare you for proper lifting.


I'm 52 desk jockey and plenty of back issues

Does not say if you had spinal pain or just muscle soreness

If it is spinal you need to feel your way very carefully (have history of Sciatica both legs as well as pain along the same nerve)

If it is just muscular then suck it up and work as hard as possible but never into spinal instability

Everyones back is different. You need to get to know your own back (top to bottom), whats weak / weaker, whats stable what spasms (thanks BBB for hint of inactive glute meds causing QL spasms).

For me heavy barbell squats (well heavy for me 112kg from PB75kg before last June) are king for resolving my pain but I have days where I have fried my hips/glutes/QL/erectors etc and movement is very painful and have to be extra careful protecting my back (avoid absolutely any twisting)

Though this is not a recommendation to squat as my reading suggests for many this aggravates their condition

So for FWIW till you learn something about your own back you will not be able properly action any advice from any source

Rambling today :slight_smile: