Your low back hurts and all you want to do is rest. If the pain is debilitating and you can’t move – that’s the right thing to do for a while but only for awhile. There are times when you need to seek urgent medical care for an acute back problem. If your bladder and bowels are effected it is a medical emergency. If though it just a simple strain you can you need to get moving as soon as possible.
Some types of exercises are incredibly good for your back. They will strengthen your back, core, buttocks and leg muscles. These muscles will support your spine and relieve your low back pain and hopefully prevent further trouble. There are though some common exercises that actually contribute to give you more back pain!
WHAT TO AVOID
1. Any Exercise That Causes Pain
Pain is your body’s way to say “stop it!” I don’t mean the “good kind of pain” when your muscles are working like you feel during those last seconds of the plank! When the pain feels like burning, or stabbing, or lasts for more than a couple of minutes, it’s time to stop. Always listen to your body.
2. High Impact Aerobic Exercise.
Any type of high-impact aerobic exercise needs to be approached with caution, especially when done on a hard surface. Jogging, running, tennis and some types of dance are examples of exercises to avoid when you have lower back pain. There may be low impact options you can take if attending an aerobics or dance class. Any instructor worth their salt should be able to give you adaptations but you need to have words with them before the class.
3. Contact sports.
Not really rocket science not to do sports like rugby or judo or other sports that ‘bash’ your body around. I’d avoid bungee jumping too!
4. Jumping Jacks.
No matter the cause of your lower back pain (muscle knots, bulging disc, pinched nerve, sciatica, etc.), jumping, in general, is a bad idea particularly as discussed before if it is onto a hard service.
5. Sit Ups
Without conditioned abdominal muscle and core doing a sit up will put a strain one your back. The reason being that the hip flexor muscles will be doing most of the work. They will pull on the spine to raise your upper body off the ground.
Sit ups and crunches put unnecessary stress on your lower back and neck. The worse possible abs exercise is when your legs lay flat and the floor and someone sits on your feet. It actually strains your lower back and doesn’t even target your abs, by the way. You will notice I tend to do the roll back rather than a sit up and this is often accompanied by the use of a dynaband to give support. Rolling back uses the same muscles as people think they are using in a sit up but is a much safer option.
6. Holding Free Weights Away From Your Body
Side raises, front raises, side bends, back bends and overhead presses should be avoided if you have lower back pain. It’s very hard to keep your back aligned while doing these and they cause unnecessary strain on your lower back.
7. Leg Lifts and Leg Lowers
Popular at boot camp-style workouts this exercise has you lying on your back lowering your legs to the ground, or lift them from the ground, sometimes in a scissor action. If your low back arches off the ground, you are risking back muscle strain and injury. I do use leg lifts as they can be a very useful exercise to strengthen the muscles of the leg and are useful for people with knee problems. I teach them in a controlled way and encourage people to put their hands on their backs to make sure the back stays near the floor and is supported. We also do it in a slow and controlled manner.
8. Straight-Legged Forward Bends
Most herniated discs occur when we’re bending forward – especially when twisting to the side or lifting something.
So, don’t do these if you have a disc problem. I give the option of a hip hinge for those people with back problems which is a safer option.
The Safe Alternatives
The best way to strengthen your lower back pain is to focus on your core and to fire up the gluteal muscles and release the hamstrings and hip flexors. All these things we concentrate on in our classes.