Back pain is either chronic, meaning that you wake up every day in pain, or you move wrong and end up hurting seemingly out of the blue. Either way, you’re told to exercise, as that will alleviate the pain. While this works – somewhat – there are some exercises that you just shouldn’t do, as they put too much pressure on your back. They’ll actually make your pain worse. Here are the four worst offenders, as well as some good alternatives.
1) Sit Ups
Traditional sit-ups will strengthen your core muscles, especially those in your abdomen. Ideally, they’ll make your back better, since the front muscles will add support. However, they need to be avoided, since they put pressure on your spine and will make your back pain much worse.
The Alternative: Partial Crunches
Partial crunches are designed to strengthen your abdominal muscles but in a back-friendly way. Start by laying on your back with both feet flat on the floor and your knees bent, facing the ceiling. Place your hands behind your neck in order to give it some support. Then, raise your shoulders off of the floor by
tightening your abdominal muscles. Do not use your arms. Lower yourself back down and repeat.
2) Superman Back Extensions
This exercise involves laying flat on the floor face down while lifting your arms and legs up. It looks impressive, especially if you can hold it for a period of time. The problem is that it stresses your lower back.
The Alternative: The Bird-Dog
This exercises actually strengthens your lower back without stressing it. Start out on your hands and knees and then extend one leg behind you to hip level. Raise the opposite arm to shoulder level at the same time. Use your abdominal muscles, but don’t tilt your pelvis. Hold this position for a brief count
and then repeat on the other side.
3) Standing Toe Touches
This is a common stretching exercise that will help your hamstrings. There are few things more painful than a tight or pulled hamstring, except for an injured back. That’s what you may end up with if you attempt this stretch when you have a history of back pain.
The Alternative: Stretches With a Towel
For this stretch, start out on your back and bend one knee. Place a towel around the foot of your extended leg. Straighten your knee as you use the towel to pull that leg up off of the floor. Hold the position for 20 seconds before repeating on the other side. Your back should remain flat on the floor the entire time.
4) Double Leg Lifts
We’ve already gone over how a strong core can keep back pain at bay. However, if you do double leg lifts, you risk injuring your lower back.
The Alternative: One Leg Lifts
Place yourself in the same position as for the towel stretches. Lift one straight up and hold it in place. Repeat with the other leg, once again, keeping your back flat on the floor. If you have any questions on these exercises, make an appointment to see your local chiropractor.