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Should You Exercise Through Back Pain?What’s the Answer?


Read time: 1 ½ Min.

When I was told it is normal to experience back pain, I was flabbergasted, especially because it was me who was suffering. My job involved hours of walking, and my exercise consisted of running laps in water, followed by a sauna and whirlpool, and a weekly Bocce Ball game, which looks somewhat like outdoor bowling.


A research article quoted that back pain was not only common with an aging spine, but that estimates upwards of 85% of people experience either back or neck pain! The pain can be excruciating and when it comes from seemingly nowhere, it’s as if someone has pulled the rug out from under your feet. It is so debilitating you can literally do nothing, as it is an all-encompassing pain,

While a little bit of spine pain is perfectly normal, there are several signs that back or neck pain is due to something more sinister, like a tumor, infection or the arrival of arthritis.


Penn Medicine physician, Dr. Alexis Tingan, says, “Back or neck pain that’s so severe that it’s debilitating needs to be checked out by a physician. If you have significant pain when you do things you normally do, like exercise or work, make sure you see a physician.”

Be forewarned that other symptoms can accompany your pain, such as:

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Increased pain at night

  • Bladder or bowel incontinence

  • Pain that shoots down the legs

  • Numbness or tingling

  • Fever

  • Severe pain that doesn’t improve after you’ve rested

  • Pain that occurs after you’ve taken a fall or injured yourself

Back or neck pain may be inevitable, but you don’t have to succumb to it,” Dr. Tingan says. “If you don’t treat it, you risk not being able to function the way that you used to. You may have trouble doing your job or enjoying your favorite activities.

*Note: Probably the last thing you think about if you have back pain is exercising. I can attest to the fact that three weeks of physical therapy has put me right again and I can hardly believe I am returning to work.

I have overcome the back pain. So far, I have had 13 sessions of Rehab and I will have five more for balance. The physical therapists first introduced me to “the rack”—it is a table for traction; and they have used electrodes that stimulate muscles, along with heat, and some long forms of massage. I’m straighter, hold my shoulders back and my rib cage up, and the best part: I’ve worked my normal work schedule with no pain. None. Of course, after those early introductions I mentioned, I completed a variety of leg lifts with weights, modified squats, hamstring stretches and other exercises to build my core.


Look for follow-up articles about the causes of back pain, how COVID-19 has exacerbated pain in many new cases, and what you can do about it.


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