Staying Active with Back Pain

Stephanie Tabbert

Dr. Stephanie Tabbert DC, BSc(Hons), ART

Active Release Technique (ART) Practitioner
Fascial Stretch Technique (FST) Practitioner

You’ve done it, you may or may not know how you did it, but your back is giving you trouble and causing you pain. Back pain sucks and it’s even worse when it means missing out on the activities you love or need to do. But… maybe you don’t have to.

Not all aches and pains require rest. In fact, early return to regular activities is often a predictor of positive outcomes when it comes to back pain. Generally speaking, people who get back to work and play sooner, tend to recover better and faster than those who elect to rest or are hesitant to get back their pre-injury routine.

So how do you decide if you are able to [insert activity from lifting weights and going to yoga to carrying children and shovelling snow here]?

Here is a simple tool to help you decide what course of action to take.

PLEASE NOTE: this is not a substitute for seeing a healthcare provider.


The unbiased judgement of a clinician is always the gold standard for these decisions.  This guide is intended for non-traumatic modes of injury and is meant for activities you are already familiar with.  If you are injured, now is not the time to take up something new without proper guidance.

For many, the first response to back pain is either ignoring its existence or avoiding all activity on its behalf. I hope that by providing a tool such as this one people can make better decisions for their health and lifestyle. If you are unsure and simply need guidance on how and when to return to activity consult a healthcare provider. One of the most important things we do is assess and communicate what activities are safe, what needs to be modified (and how), and what should be avoided altogether.