While streets and roads can offer consistent flat surfaces for running, they’re not great for your body. Constantly running outside or even on treadmills can lead to anterior knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. Elliptical training is a low-impact exercise that can help alleviate back pain. Ellipticals have pedals suspended off the ground that move in an oval motion. These pedals help simulate walking, running, stair-stepping, and even cross-country skiing, but without the impact on your joints. Most ellipticals have varying incline and resistance levels and movable handles that allow the user to get a good aerobic exercise while building muscles.

High-impact exercises like running and jumping rope can inflict excess force on the spine. On elliptical trainers, the user’s foot never leaves the ground, eliminating the point of impact. Unlike a treadmill, which is meant to simulate flat pavement, the elliptical motion is fluid, moving your feet and legs together. The movement on the trainer does not jar or jolt the spinal structures. This leads to low stress levels on the spine and other joints, decreasing back pain.

Beginning to Work Out

Although your back pain may sometimes be worsened by exercise, not working out carries the same amount of risk. Lack of exercise makes you susceptible to  developing more back pain. Sitting for long periods of time decreases the blood and nutrient supply to the vertebrae, leading to pain. Conversely, aerobic exercises help bring those nutrients  to the spine, while increasing blood supply.

The elliptical can be great for someone who has back pain and is just starting to exercise. Remember to start out with a light warm-up. You don’t want to do too much too quickly. Also, make sure you know how to use the machine properly to reduce your risk of injury.

For best results, use the elliptical for 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week when  starting out. ActivAided may also be a good option for someone with back pain who is just beginning to work out. It will train you to use the elliptical with proper biomechanics and correct posture for back pain relief and can be used before, during, and after periods of activity.

Before activity, ActivAided primes the body and increases awareness before engaging in potentially harmful motions and activities. During physical activity, it guides pain-free movement and teaches good technique and posture. After you have finished working out, ActivAided assists in recuperation and protects the back while your muscles are fatigued and vulnerable. As you progress, you should consult your doctor or physical therapist to see what amount of impact and stress your back can handle.