Only in 1-2% of cases, back pain is a signal of a serious health problem. If your back hurts, it’s important to stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities. Physical exercise can overcome back pain . Moreover, prolonged inactivity can worsen the condition. However, there are exercises that you should avoid when you have back pain.
Separate exercises can additionally load some back muscles and increase pressure in the intervertebral discs. As a result, back pain gets worse.
Dangerous: Rolling on your back with your arms around your knees
One of the most dangerous exercises, despite the fact that it brings a temporary sense of relief, as it relieves tension in the muscles of the back. During this exercise, pressure increases in the intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine. Thus, forces act on the inner core of the disc, which contribute to its movement towards the spinal canal, where the nerve roots are located. This can cause increased pain.
An exercise that can be replaced: in the supine position – one leg to the stomach, the other leg remains straight. Make sure your back is not rounded and stays on the floor. Hold the leg in this position for a while, then repeat on the other side. The number of repetitions is 5-10 times.
Dangerous: Forward bends with straight legs touching the floor
A dangerous exercise for the same reasons as the previous one – it increases the pressure in the lumbar discs. However, stretching the muscles of the back of the thighs is needed to relieve back pain. In many patients with low back pain, these muscles are usually contracted and tense. Their relaxation leads to a decrease in pain.
Exercise that can be replaced: It is better to stretch the muscles of the back of the thigh like this: lying on your back, straighten one leg, the other remains on the floor – with the help of an elastic band or a towel, we straighten the leg. Then repeat the same on the other side.
Dangerous: If you have back pain, it is not advisable to perform twisting with full amplitude.
During the exercise in this version, the large lumbar muscles (m. Psoas major ), which additionally loads the disks. A common mistake when doing this exercise is to strongly bend the neck and press on the head with your hands.
Alternative exercise: To reduce the load on the lower back, it is better to do crunches with incomplete amplitude or partial twisting. This means that only the head, shoulders and neck need to be lifted off the surface, the lower back should remain pressed to the floor. It is not necessary to join hands in a lock on the back of the head, it is better to hold at the temples to avoid pressure on the head. Head, neck and shoulders should be in line. Exercise should be performed through the efforts of the tension of the abdominal muscles, and not in jerks with the help of the hands.
You can also do modified twists. Lying on your back, bend one leg at the knee, the other – remains straight. The palms should be placed under the lower back, so you can maintain a neutral back curve. Performing the exercise: raise only the head, neck and shoulder girdle, the body and position of the legs remain unchanged. Repeat the exercise symmetrically on the other side.
Dangerous: Straight leg raises while lying on your back
This exercise also leads to contraction of the large psoas muscles and increases the pressure in the intervertebral discs.
Exercise that can be replaced : Exercise “superman” – raising arms and legs at the same time. During this exercise, the load on the intervertebral joints increases sharply (up to 6000 N, equivalent to a weight of more than 600 kg). If these joints are the source of pain, exercise can exacerbate.
Dangerous: Any exercise that causes hyperextension ( overstretching ) of the lower back and simultaneous tension of the back muscles (raising the upper body)
They are best performed with the back in a neutral position, without excessive arching in the lower back.
Exercise that can be replaced :
Exercise “hunting dog”. At the same time, stretch your arm forward, the opposite leg back. Hold for 6-8 seconds. Make sure your back stays straight and doesn’t twist. Don’t forget to breathe. Repeat 8-12 times. Then change side. Gradually increase the number of approaches. If this exercise is difficult for you at first, start by stretching only your arms or legs.
Also, people with back pain are not recommended to exercise in the first one to two hours after a night’s sleep. During the night, our intervertebral discs become as hydrated as possible (that is, they absorb water as much as possible) and more elastic. This can lead to further injury. Especially if you perform exercises during which compression of the disks occurs (for example, forward bends in the lower back). About an hour after waking up, as a result of the action of gravity, the intervertebral discs return to their normal state.