Ok so we’ve all been lied to. Who knew all the stuff they put in bodybuilding magazines would become imprinted in our brains as the right stuff to do? Surely it has to be true and expert information if it was in such a prestigious magazine. Right? Somewhere along the way we we brainwashed into the bodybuilding cult by wishing to look massive instead of actually being strong.
The most effective ways of increasing strength and overall health are significantly different then the old school bodybuilding methods that Schwarzenegger made famous. There’s now scientific research that clearly shows how increasing your actual strength is far more superior in overall health and real world performance than just increasing your muscle size.
But hey, I was there too. I’ve done the bodybuilding thing for past 7 years ever since I first started working out. And it wasn’t because I didn’t know any better! It was because I was willing to trade performance for appearance. As a result of this, I’ve had several serious back injuries over the years that have kept me from enjoying life.
I’ve had numerous golf playing clients in lower back pain and have actually tried doing these types of bodybuilding training routines! Exercise and flexibility are critical for golfers, but not the traditional bodybuilding stuff. Most golf players aren’t getting any younger and these workouts would just regress their health and strength. But it’s not really their fault, a lot of golf players have low back pain but most don’t know how to get out of it, so they resort to methods they see in magazines.
Here are my list of the Top 5 ABSOLUTE WORST Exercises for Lower Back Pain…
1) Back Loaded Exercises: Back loaded squats and lunges are really hard on the lower back. The spine compresses when you place a barbell on top of it. When doing the 10-12 rep stuff bodybuilding magazines recommend, you’re often pushing yourself to do more reps then necessary. When you do this your form is more likely to suffer and injuries start flowing. Doing this is what caused the majority of my back injuries.
2) Situps: Situps are another horrible exercise for those in low back pain. Situps are done with intentions to strength the abdominal muscles but it actuality they are working more of the hip flexors. The hip flexors actually are attached to the vertebrae of the lower back and are one of the major causes of back pain. Also when performed with the hands behind the head, you’re more likely to pull on your neck (cervical spine) and add additional unncessary back stress.
3) Crunches & Leg Raises: Crunches are intended to be done to work the “six pack” muscles of the abdominals. Most people unfortunately way overdo it with crunches and as a result create a significant imbalance in the abdominals causing a flexion-chain imbalance. This will give you the “slumped” look with your hips moving forward and your ribcage moving inward. The is BAD considering the body always wants to be in balance. Leg Raises are also bad because they tend to involve more of the hip flexors and can put your lower back in a compromising position.
4) Supermans: This is a very traditional exercise to do if you’re in low back pain. Hell, there was a time when even I would recommend it to my clients who had lower back pain and a weak core. The problem with it is that it creates an extreme amount of compression of the spine and this amount of force can easily damage ligaments, joint surfaces and even disc ruptures. For a great core exercise try doing a Hover Plank instead.
5) Leg Press: When done correctly and with sufficient weight, the leg press can be a very effective exercise. But most gym goers throw on a ton of weight, aren’t very flexible and try to feed their ego by pushing some big weight. When doing this they are very likely to lift their lower back off the pad that is keeping the integrity of the spine. When this happens with all that weight on the leg press, injuries will happen. Instead of going heavy, go light and do one-legged presses.
These are the exercises that I’ve found to cause the most unnecessary stress to the lower back. I’m not saying you have to completely drop them from your workouts, but from now on be smart with your training. Especially if you are in pain and over the age of 30. If you are already in lower back pain then I would definitely not recommend doing any of the following exercises…
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.