Cardio Exercise Equipment That Won’t Worsen Back Pain


Working out with cardio exercise equipment at home or a gym can be a highly beneficial treatment for back discomfort, soreness, and pain. However, when checking out all the cardio machines, it is recommended to use those that will help with back pain and not worsen or cause further injury. The same goes for purchasing cardio equipment to use at home. Research has found that exercise training could effectively treat back pain. A study on pain found that the endorphins generated from aerobic exercise help to lessen low back pain. The North American Spine Society announced evidence-based recommendations for treating back pain, and one of the top recommendations was aerobic exercise. Individuals can always go outside to:

  • Walk
  • Hike
  • Run
  • Bike ride

But mixing it up with cardio equipment can have its benefits for different reasons. It could be too hot or raining, sometimes, individuals prefer a set workout program to reach calorie or distance goals, and it could be easier on the spine. Working out at home or at a gym, cardiovascular machines can help bring relief to back pain.

Cardiovascular Exercise Back Pain Treatment

Cardiovascular exercise is highly recommended for everyone. Exercise combined with conservative therapy is usually part of a treatment plan for individuals dealing with back pain. This  includes:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Health Coaching
  • Diet
  • Aerobic exercise regimen

With an exercise program, experts recommend starting with moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Moderate intensity workouts are meant to get an individual’s heart and blood pumping, sweating a little, and slightly deep breathing. These types of exercise include:

  • Power walking outside
  • Power walking on a treadmill
  • Stationary biking

As long as physical activity increases the heart rate, these exercises have decreased back pain, relieved stress, and elevated mood. 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three to five times a week for six weeks is recommended. The American Heart Association recommends this to help the back become healthier and feel better.

Exercise Not For All Spine Conditions

However, not all spinal conditions benefit from regular exercise. Getting an evaluation from a doctor, spine specialist, or chiropractor is recommended for injuries and severe and/or persistent back pain before starting a cardiovascular exercise program. This could be a spinal fracture, a spinal condition requiring bracing, or intense physical therapy/rehabilitation. Individuals that do not exercise regularly or have a medical or heart condition/s definitely need to get a doctor’s clearance before beginning a cardiovascular workout regimen.

Top Cardiovascular Exercises and Equipment

Once a doctor clears the individual for aerobic exercise, no cardio equipment is off-limits. Elliptical machines and stationary bikes are the most well-tolerated by individuals with back problems/conditions. Because they are low impact. However, using a jogging treadmill is also beneficial if it is tolerable. Listen to the body. If a workout on a treadmill causes back pain that is not just workout soreness,  stop with that machine and try different cardiovascular equipment that is more low impact. Do not ignore back pain. If pain is continuous and exercising is not helping, stop seeing a doctor or chiropractor evaluate and analyze the situation. Then they can adjust the exercise part of the treatment plan according to the presenting symptoms.

Body Composition

Concurrent Training

Concurrent training combines aerobic and resistance exercises during the same workout session. Aerobic and resistance exercise impacts the body in different ways. The type of aerobic training determines how it interacts with resistance exercise. The order of the types of exercises, like aerobic and resistance workouts, can make a difference. Understanding a few specifics about concurrent training will help to make decisions about an exercise program.

  • Aerobic/interval and resistance training does not seem to interfere with the others’ adaptations.
  • However, gaining strength could be lowered by adding running to a resistance program.
  • Whereas bicycling does not have the same effect.

Cycling and the ergonomics that go with it are similar to traditional lower-body resistance exercises. The muscle contractions that come with running result in muscle damage, while the contractions in cycling also cause muscle damage, it is not to the same extent. Pairing the exercise programs correctly is key, such as a running program with an upper-body lifting exercise that can be beneficial. While running and doing leg presses every day could interfere with each other and cause injuries. Or, if doing both aerobic and resistance exercises in the same session or on the same day, consider the order of the exercises, depending on the goal.


British Journal of Sports Medicine. (November 2020) “Which specific modes of exercise training are most effective for treating low back pain? Network meta-analysis”

Pain. (December 2020) “Are endogenous opioid mechanisms involved in the effects of aerobic exercise training on chronic low back pain? A randomized controlled trial”

North American Spine Society. (2020) “Evidence-Based Clinical Guidelines for Multidisciplinary Spine Care”

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The information herein on "Cardio Exercise Equipment That Won't Worsen Back Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


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