top of page

Make Your Studio Smarter


The Personal Fitness Trainer's Guide to Managing Chronic Backache

a good looking woman athlete running and suffering from a back pain, holding her back during the run

Chronic backache presents a significant barrier to an active lifestyle and can significantly influence an individual's well-being. Personal trainers aiding individuals who experience such discomfort must adopt a specialized, careful approach. This guide outlines the pathway for personal trainers assisting clients with chronic backaches, illustrating workout examples and potential benefits and risks within various exercise disciplines.

Starting Safely

1. Medical Clearance:

Always begin by ensuring the client has consulted with a right doctor for an accurate diagnosis and to understand any limitations. A clear communication line between the medical professional and the fitness trainer is crucial in formulating a safe exercise plan.

2. Assessment:

Conduct a comprehensive fitness assessment focusing on range of motion, core stability, posture, and flexibility; this will serve as the benchmark for the client’s tailored program.

Personal Fitness Trainer for Yoga -A Gentle Approach

1. Benefits:

Yoga can increase flexibility, strengthen core muscles, and promote relaxation, all of which can help to reducing backache. Poses that focus on gradual stretching and strengthening can be especially beneficial.

2. Risks:

Deep forward bends or back bends might exacerbate back pain if not performed correctly. Ensure that clients avoid any postures that trigger pain and are taught proper alignment and form.

3. Exercise Examples:

- Cat-Cow Stretch: Enhances spine flexibility.

- Modified Child's Pose: Relieves tension in the back.

- Supported Bridge Pose: Strengthens the core and glutes.

Gym Workouts: Focused Strength Building

1. Benefits:

Strengthening exercises in the gym can target specific muscle groups that support the back, thereby potentially alleviating chronic back pain.

2. Risks:

Lifting heavy weights or inappropriate use of gym machines can lead to increased back strain or injury.

3. Exercise Examples:

- Seated Row: Can strengthen back muscles without placing pressure on the spine.

- Leg Press: Strengthens legs and glutes with less spine loading.

- Avoid deadlifts or overhead presses without professional supervision.

Swimming: The Buoyant Workout

1. Benefits:

Swimming and water aerobics offer a low-impact environment where the water supports body weight, reducing stress on the back.

2. Risks:

Overexertion without proper technique, especially during strokes like butterfly, can pull or strain the back muscles.

3. Exercise Examples:

- Breaststroke: Gentle on the back and helpful for strengthening.

- Aquatic Therapy Exercises: Supervised gentle range-of-motion activities in the pool.

Running: Proceed with Caution

1. Benefits:

Running can improve overall cardiovascular health and weight management, reducing the load on the spine.

2. Risks:

Running on hard surfaces or with poor form can lead to jarring of the spine.

3. Exercise Guidance:

- Encourage running on softer surfaces.

- Introduce interval walking and running to minimize impact.

- Prioritize proper footwear to absorb shock.

Other Workouts and Considerations


Pilates exercises focus on the core and can enhance spinal stability, crucial for alleviating backache.

2. Cycling:

Cycling, especially on a recumbent bike, can support the back and allow a cardiovascular workout without spinal stress.

3. Dance/Cardio Workouts:

These should be low-impact, without abrupt twists or jumps. Examples include modified Zumba or low-impact aerobics.

Make sure a doctor involved

Getting advice from a doctor is crucial in designing the right fitness plan for individuals with chronic backache or any other medical condition. This ensures that the fitness plan is safe, effective, and custom to the client's specific needs. Here's how a personal trainer or an individual with back pain should prepare for and carry out a consultation with a doctor:

Identifying the Right Doctor:

1. Specialist Selection:

- Dearch for a physician specializing in sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), or a pain specialist. For back issues, an orthopedist or physiatrist is often recommended.

2. Referrals and Reviews:

- Ask for referrals from other health professionals or get recommendations from other clients who have undergone similar issues.

3. Insurance and Credentials:

- Ensure the chosen doctor is recognized by the individual's insurance provider if applicable, and verify their credentials and experience in dealing with cases similar to the client's.

Preparing for the Consultation

1. Medical History and Documentation:

- Gather any relevant medical records and history, including previous diagnoses, imaging results (such as MRI, X-rays), and treatments received.

- Include a list of any medications currently taken, including dosage and frequency.

2. Symptom Diary:

- Keep a journal of the back pain noting frequency, intensity, triggers, and any mitigating factors. This can help the doctor understand how the pain affects daily activities and exercises.

3. Current Activity Level:

- Detail the current level of physical activity and any exercise regimens already being followed, as well as how these affect the back pain.

4. Fitness Goals:

- Clearly outline what fitness goals the individual wishes to achieve, such as increasing strength, improving flexibility, or weight loss.

5. Questions and Concerns:

- Prepare a list of questions or problems to raise during the consultation. This should include inquiries about specific exercises, types of exercise to avoid, and how to progress in activity level safely.

During the Doctor's Visit

1. Clear Communication:

- Clearly relay the back pain experience, exercise habits, and goals, and use the symptom diary to support your statements.

- Be open about any concerns you may have about starting or continuing an exercise regimen.

2. Collaborative Discussion:

- Engage in a discussion with the doctor to help tailor the fitness plan according to medical advice, considering limitations and focusing on exercises that aid in recovery and pain management.

3. Clarify and Confirm:

- Verify any exercise restrictions or recommendations provided by the doctor.

- Ask for clarification on any medical conditions or instructions that are unclear.

Follow-up After Consultation

1. Documented Plan:

- Ask the doctor to provide a written recommendation or exercise plan.

- Keep records of all advice given for future reference.

2. Regular Check-ins:

- Schedule regular appointments to monitor progress and make adjustments to the exercise program as needed.

- Communicate any feedback from the client regarding exercises that may be causing discomfort or pain.

Building the right fitness plan with the advice of a doctor ensures that exercises complement the medical treatment plan, aiding in the management and potential reduction of chronic backache symptoms. It is a collaborative effort that requires honesty, thorough preparation, and follow-through for success.

Final Recommendations

Personal fitness trainers should know that Embarking on a fitness journey with a chronic backache demands vigilance, patience, and adaptability. Personal trainers must listen closely to their clients and be ready to alter exercises if they cause discomfort or pain. An incremental approach, backed by medical advice and client feedback, is essential for ensuring a safe and effective workout regimen.

Personal trainers should also foster a holistic view of wellness, integrating advice on sleep, nutrition, and stress management, as these factors can also impact back health. With informed guidance, people with chronic backache can engage in a fitness program that not only mitigates their pain but also enhances their overall quality of life.



bottom of page