Top 10 Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain Sufferers

back exercises for back pain

Only 20 percent of the adult population has been able to escape the horrors of back pain.

How are they able to do it?

Do they have some kind of human super power or super DNA that allows them to live their life pain-free without waking up stiff and sore?

No.

They are just like you and me, but the main difference is that they have figured out what the worst back exercises for back pain are and simply avoided them or modified them.

In this article, I’m going to hopefully enlighten you and share the worst back exercises for back pain and equip you with better alternatives.

Let’s begin.

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #1: High Aerobic Exercises

Strenuous aerobic exercises like jogging, running and even jumping on a trampoline can make your lower back feel worse.

Instead…

Try a low-impact alternative such as walking, swimming, and biking. Start with short sessions and build up over time.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

In fact, a 2012 study found that walking just 20 to 40 minutes twice weekly for six weeks helped ease low back pain.

If swimming is your thing, try to avoid any strokes that twist your body.  Instead of doing the butterfly and freestyle which require more trunk rotation,  try the backstroke and breaststroke.

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #2: Toe Touch Hamstring Stretch

Toe Touches can put greater stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine. They can also overstretch lower back muscles and hamstrings.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Instead…

Try doing a lying down or standing hamstring stretch.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #3: Sit-Ups and Crunches

When most people do sit-ups, they end up engaging their hip flexors and making them tighter instead of working their core muscles. Sit Ups also can put unnecessary pressure on your vertebral discs.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Instead…

Try planks, bird dogs and curl ups.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #4: Double Leg Lifts

Double leg lifts can put too much pressure on the  core muscles and stress the spine.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Instead…

Try doing Bent Knee Hundreds.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #5: Straight Leg Deadlift

If you allow your spine to round out during the exercise, your lower back will wind up doing all the work.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Instead…

Perform this move properly, focus on keeping the core tight and your spine in a straight, neutral position.  When bringing the weight up past the knees, use your hips to pull up, not your back.

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #6: Bent Over Rows

The major pitfall in this exercise is forcing your back and not your hips to do all the work.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Instead…

Try maintaining better form!

Keep your back in a neutral position, with your head up and butt down. When lifting, keep eyes forward; looking down will force your back to round. Concentrate on pulling elbows back into the body to keep the focus on your back. 

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #7: Back Squats

When done with poor form, it’s an easy way to wind up with more pain than gain after a gym session. The most common mistake is rounding your back when doing a back squat.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Instead…

Keep your back straight and do not stick your chest out.  This causes tension to build up in your lower back.

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #8: Heavy Overhead Lifts

If you allow the low-back to arch, that puts too much compression on the vertebrae of your spine

Back Exercises for Back Pain

If you have a pronounced back arch try these two training tweaks:

1. Strengthen your core with plank variations because if your abs aren’t strong, they won’t be able to keep the pelvis in a neutral position through contraction, and the pelvis will slip into an unhealthy forward tilt.

2. Release your hip flexors by foam-rolling and stretching since they may become tight and cause a forward pelvic tilt. 

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #9: Incline Leg Press

Back Exercises for Back Pain

Leg lifts are sometimes suggested as an ab workout to “strengthen the core” and toned the abs.

Leg press machines have you angled back—with your legs above your head—this puts your back into an awkward, flexed position and could increase your chances of a back injury.

This exercise is NOT worth the risk.

Instead…

Do Freestanding squats and lunges.

In a Mayo Clinic study, squats were found to put less stress on the joints and better strengthen the quads. The researchers determined that “closed-chain kinetic exercises,” in which the foot is fixed on the ground and the joints all move together, were safer than “open-chain” ones in which the foot hangs free and the foot, knee, and hip joints all move independently. 

Worst Back Exercises for Back Pain #10: Seated Russian Twists

Is a sure way to hurt your back. The lower back isn’t meant to rotate that way.

Back Exercises for Back Pain

It’s main job is to bend forwards and backwards as well as flex and extend. The seated Russian Twist can easily lead to a low back injury due to the high level of force placed on the lumbar discs during the exercise.

Instead…

Try doing a side plank with rotation.

The plank is a fantastic movement, and one that most people can do correctly. To make it more like the Russian Twist, add in side planks on either side, complete with “threading the needle” twists.

From the side plank position with your top arm in the air, bring your extended arm down and tuck it under your body as you twist forward, bringing your torso almost parallel with the ground and your arm hovering beneath your chest.

Rotate back to side plank and raise your arm overhead again, then repeat several times on both sides. 

Forget Pills and Surgery for Back Pain and Do These Exercises

If you’d like to the learn the exact 21 exercises I performed everyday to heal my back after I injured it one hot summer day installing a 60-pound air conditioner, then check out my ebook, Low Back Pain Survival Guide.

back exercises for back pain

 

And guess what?

Check out the Low Back Pain Survival Guide here!

 

Recommended Reading:
Doctors Gave Up Fixing This Yoga Girl’s Back Pain, But… In Less Than An Hour, She’s Doing The Downward Dog Again

5 Essential Core Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain Sufferers

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After a protracted period of work -related stress followed by a month of 12-hour days committed to a large and neglected garden, I came to Morgan for a 2-hr birthday massage special with the hope of releasing some of the knots in my back, which were limiting my mobility. As ever, Morgan exceeded expectations,using combined therapeutic techniques that relieved the tension and obliterated the pain. Given my lifestyle, I would come weekly if I could!

- Vanessa McClinchy