Stretching and strengthening through regular exercise improves your overall health and can alleviate back pain. Plus, it just feels good. However, some exercises cause more harm than good when it comes to pain.
In general, when stretching, try to stay aware of how your body feels. If you feel pain at any point, stop. Proper form trumps depth any day.
The five exercises outlined below create an exceptional risk and should be avoided by those who suffer from back pain.
1. Seated forward fold
Sitting down with outstretched legs and reaching toward the toes was probably one of the first stretching poses you learned way back in physical education class. If you have back pain, however, you may want to avoid it now.
When you bend forward, the lumbar spine loses its natural curve. This put pressure on the discs that cushion the vertebrae and increases the risk for back pain. If you have tight hamstrings, they restrict the pelvis from tilting forward, increasing the pressure on the spine. These factors make seated forward folds a risky proposition for some people.
2. Standing forward folds
Bending over to touch your toes and stretch your hamstrings is good for you, right? Not if you have a bad back, and especially not if you have tight hamstrings.
Bending over with straight legs can lock your pelvis, preventing it from tipping forward. As a result, the forward motion comes from your lower back instead of the pelvis. As with seated forward folds, the back loses its natural curve and the vertebrae compress, creating a potentially painful situation.
3. Standing or seated hamstring stretches
While stretching your hamstrings can help alleviate back pain, stretching in the wrong way or while recovering from some back injuries can increase the pain. Even if you avoid extreme forward folds, by instead placing your foot on a chair and reaching forward, the stretching sometimes aggravates such conditions as lumbar disc injuries.
These popular abdominal-strengthening exercises may build stomach muscles, but they can also lead to back pain. Struggling to lift up sometimes strains the lower back, especially if you use the hips muscles to pull up instead of the abdominal muscles.
5. Leg lifts
Another popular core and abdominal strengthening exercise, leg lifts can sometimes result in the lower back taking on unnecessary stress. Lifting your legs also works your hip flexors, another muscle that interacts with your back. Tight hip flexors can contribute to back pain.
What exercises do you avoid when you have back pain?
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