Which Exercises to Avoid With Lower Back Pain?

Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2021
exercise to lower back pain
Doctors recommend strengthening exercises to help relieve low back pain, however, here are eight workouts to avoid potentially worsening your chronic pain.

Pain in the lower back is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in adults. Having this pain makes it very difficult for a person to carry out their day-to-day activities, especially when bending or sitting.

Despite the common belief of resting to help alleviate pain, research and doctors actively promote performing the right type of lower back strengthening exercises to achieve greater relief and quicker healing. However, movements have to be selected very carefully because stress and strain can worsen the situation, creating greater agony for the person.

It’s best to contact a doctor or physical therapist first before starting the exercises or in cases of intense pain.

Below are eight of the most common exercises that should be completely avoided by those experiencing low back pain.

8 Exercises to Avoid for Low Back Pain

Leg lifts/Double leg raises

  • Here the person lifts both legs together while lying on their back touching the ground. 
  • Since it requires a strong core to carry out this exercise, which puts immense pressure on the back, it should be avoided.


  • A core strengthening exercise where most people use their hips to carry their body weight, which creates an increased tension on the spine and aggravates back pain.

Standing toe touches

  • Here the person stands straight and tries to touch their toe by bending forward. 
  • Because it causes increased extension of the lower back, it increases the risk of stress to the disks and ligaments there. Hence, it should be avoided.

Abdominal crunches

  • Here the person lies on the ground on their back and bends their knee in the right angle position. Then the person tries to lift their torso and come closer to the knee as much as possible.
  • This again hyperextends the spine and ligaments involved, so it should be avoided.

Back squats

  • These are a modification of the traditional squats where the person puts an iron bar carrying heavy weights on their back and performs the squats.
  • People with back pain should completely avoid carrying weights, so this exercise should be avoided.

Superman back extensions

  • You begin by lying on the ground facing down, which you then simultaneously lift your arms and legs off the ground and try to hold this position up.
  • This position involves the muscles of the core and back and creates the highest amount of stress. Thus, it must be completely skipped by people who experience even slight lower back pain.

Exercises involving overhead or shoulder lifting of weights

  • Lifting weights when you have lower back pain puts excessive stress over the spine and back muscles and increases the risk of muscle spasms and ligament tears. Thus, these exercises should not be performed.

Avoid skipping warm-ups

  • This is a very common mistake done by people while working out. Doing warm-up exercises, such as a cat-cow position in yoga, stretches the lower back muscles and prepares them for the workout ahead.
  • Skipping these warm-ups creates an additional risk of spontaneous injury to the muscles and ligaments of the body.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2021