You may think that exercise is bad for back pain, but the reverse is actually true in most cases. If you’ve got a bad back, then appropriate exercise can help to strengthen your back and relieve stress. According to Reader’s Digest, “A strong, well-conditioned back is better at withstanding stress and protecting the spine compared to one that hasn’t been conditioned through exercise.”

Check out some workouts that can help to reduce back pain, or help prevent it in the first place.

Yoga Stretches

Yoga can not only strengthen your back; it can also stretch and relax the muscles that carry pain and trigger the stress you feel. Try things like forward bending (standing bent over while holding your calves) or the classic downward dog pose.

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Walking

That’s right. Simply walking (from 20-40 minutes a few times a week) can help your back out. Here’s why:

“Researchers recruited 52 sedentary patients with chronic lower back pain and assigned half to muscle-strengthening sessions and the other half to treadmill sessions twice a week (first for 20 minutes, then eventually for 40 minutes). After six weeks, all participants reported less pain and less avoidance of daily activities, and there was no significant difference between the two groups, showing that walking could be just as effective as other, more intensive workouts for back pain.”

Hydrotherapy

When you’re suffering from chronic back pain, it can be a lot easier on your back to exercise in the water. Being in water actually counteracts the gravitational pull that compresses the spine. So hit the gym and head to the pool. Reader’s Digest recommends trying low-strain exercises, like “pulling” – “(take long strokes with your arms, leaving legs isolated to float behind) for an upper body workout that doesn’t twist and turn your lower back.”

Read more over at Reader’s Digest.