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What exercise should I do for back pain?

Q) I'm 52 years old and have had bad back pain for the last few years. An MRI scan showed I have arthritis in my discs and my hip.

I've been going regularly to hydrogym which has helped a lot but I’m still always in pain. My doctor has told me to exercise to keep my muscles strengthened but any other advice I can get would be very much appreciated.
Joan (Summer 2017)

A) I agree with the advice your doctor has given you. The joints in our spines, like the other joints in our body, benefit from a mix of:

  • flexibility exercises like stretching and yoga to keep a good range of movement
  • resistance or strengthening exercises to increase strength and support a healthy posture
  • aerobic exercise like walking and swimming to help with muscle endurance.

Research has also found yoga to be beneficial for long-term back pain.

However, you should also speak to your GP about different painkillers that may help, particularly if you're having a bad day with pain. It’s tough trying to keep going when you're experiencing pain constantly.

I’d recommend taking a look at our guide on living with long-term pain, as it has useful advice on the range of treatments available and things you can try to help manage the pain and keep going.

This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Summer 2017 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

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