Most people begin a workout program with the best intentions, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, then you can hurt your back. The AANS or American Association of Neurological Surgeons says that between 75 and 85 percent of Americans will hurt their back at some point. You may be able to lower this number by making sure you are aware of what to do and what not to do when exercising.
1. The Plank
This exercise can do wonders for your core and overall physique, but there are a few things you must avoid so you don’t hurt your back:
Once in the plank position, don’t round or arch your upper or lower back. Don’t stick your butt out. You may be inclined to raise your bottom and hips as the seconds increase and holding the plank becomes more difficult, but this is a mistake that could lead to back pain.
Don’t let your hips sag. Your entire body, from your shoulders to your ankles, should be in line, and your chin should be tucked. When doing the plank, focus your eyes on the space between your wrists.
The plank beats sit-ups, crunches and twists, and doing these exercises is not the way to get flat abs or a six-pack. Instead of building six-pack or flat abs through sit-ups, crunches and twists, you just need to reveal them by burning the fat that’s covering them. These exercises will only cause injury to your lower back and neck.
While push-ups are a whole-body exercise, the same rules apply for form as when you do the plank if you don’t want to hurt your back. The only difference between the two is that with push-ups you are resting on the palms of your hands or on your knuckles instead of your forearms. Maintain form and protect your back by keeping your shoulders in line with your hips and ankles, your chin tucked and your eyes focused on the area between your hands.
Push-ups are one of the exercises that yield high results is the basis of the Max Workouts Program. However, some of these workouts require that you do them just right so that you don’t hurt your back.
3. Anti-Rotation Press
When doing this exercise, it’s easy to use your back muscles to help get through the reps, but this will only cause it harm. To reach the goal of strengthening your core with this exercise, focus on tightening your abs while doing the reps. When you contract your abs correctly, you should be able to feel the anti-rotation press exercise working your core instead of your back. Also, fight the temptation to rotate your hips to one side or arch your lower back. One suggestion is to do each weight-bearing exercise, such as this one, without weights until you get the hang of it. Once you can do the exercise confidently and you have the form down, then you can add weights.
Prevent back pain from squats by making sure you don’t hunch your shoulders, round your back or arch the spine. Keep your spine naturally straight. To help with this, focus your body weight on your hips and rear when going up and down, drive the hips forward when coming up, and keep your abs contracted. You can increase the results of any exercise you do and protect your back by doing this. With squats and other exercises where it applies, remember to engage your core and glutes instead of straining your hamstrings and lower back. Also, never arch or hyper-extend your lower back.
Don’t do this exercise using a gym machine. Usually, an exercise carried out without the use of a machine engages more of your muscles, so more than one muscle group is being worked simultaneously. Gym machines only work a small area of your body at a time and don’t allow you to move your body naturally. Yes, they might be inviting and motivating, but they can strain your joints causing injuries to your back and other parts of your body.
It’s actually quite normal to want to arch the lower back and shift your hips forward while doing a pull-up, but doing it spells eventual lower back pain. To prevent this from happening, keep your abdominals contracted, and bend your knees slightly so they are just in front of your hips.
If you’ve ever had back pain, then you know how unpleasant it can be. You could consult your doctor before beginning each new exercise, but most times, people feel they have the strength and that they understand their body enough to know how much they can do without sustaining an injury. In fact, many exercise less than they can safely simply because they are afraid of doing too much. This is why you want to find a workout program that allows you to work out far less than other programs while still obtaining maximum results.
If you do sustain a back injury, try not to spend too much time in bed. Use ice for the first 24 to 48 hours, and move around a little bit, but nothing too heavy-duty. Also you can try to walk a little to help your back heal.