Top 5 Exercises to Avoid with Back Pain

Jun 08, 2016

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In the US having back pain is a fact of life.

In the US having back pain is a fact of life. Up to 60% of adults experience back pain during their lifetime. Many go about their day not realizing just how serious the issue of back pain is and continue performing tasks and exercises the same ways they are accustomed to. This is a mistake as they may be exacerbating their back pain performing certain motions, especially when working out.

Motions such as hunching or bending over can actually make back pain worse. When you bend forward either while standing up or sitting down, you increase the space between the discs in your spine, putting additional strain on the lower lumbar vertebra. Here we review the top 5 exercises to avoid when you suffer chronic back pain. However, there are still ways to get exercise and enjoy outdoor activities which won’t strain your back.

Common Abdominal Exercises

If you are trying to strengthen or tone your stomach area and you suffer from back pain, avoid traditional movements such as sit ups and crunches during your workout routine. These exercises put a huge strain on your back while they only work 20% of the muscles in your abs. Performing sit ups pulls on your neck and upper back and your lower back is affected supporting the weight of your upper body as you raise it.

A good alternative to sit ups and crunches to strengthen your core without putting pressure on your spine is planking. Lie flat on the ground, then raise your body by resting on your tiptoes and your elbows for a few repetitions of 30 second intervals. Doing the plank for too long can also exacerbate back pain. Yoga is another good alternative.


While pushups are effective at building overall body strength, they are often not executed correctly. A poorly-executed pushup can lead to back and shoulder pain. If you are going to attempt a pushup, be sure that your core is tight, your pelvis is tucked in and your spine is flat. Head, back, and rear should be aligned. Keep your hips level with your body to avoid back pain.

Double Leg Raises

Another core and back strengthening exercise is the double leg lift. In this position, you lay flat on your back as you raise both your legs simultaneously while also keeping your head, neck, and shoulders above ground with your arms stretched out by your sides. This position puts too much stress on your neck, upper and lower back as it is impossible to keep your back from arching while raising and lowering both legs. Instead of doing double leg raises, try single leg lifts, keeping one leg flexed while raising the alternate one.


If you suffer from back pain, avoid spin class or any kind of cycling activity for long periods of time. Sitting upright maintains the proper lumbar curve and does not stress your back unnecessarily; but leaning forward on a stationary bike or engaging in long-distance road cycling puts added stress in the lumbar region. Try an activity like swimming instead to avoid ending up in a rounded posture.


While it doesn’t seem like running can damage your spine, the simple act of running is tough on joints. When you try to run for long periods and increase your speed, you are hitting the ground harder each time with your feat. This jarring repetitive motion is what adds unnecessary stress to your spine and the joints in your lower extremities.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic back pain, the specialists at Garden State Pain Control are ready to help you get it under control. Make an appointment today in one of several New Jersey clinics.