8 Exercises That Are Bad For Your Back (& ​​3 You Can Do Instead)

Exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy back, but not all are created equal. Certain exercises can be bad for your back, causing pain and injury.

While these exercises aren’t catastrophic, they’re often the most likely to cause long-term injury, especially if you’re a beginner or suffer from chronic back pain.

They’re also the most difficult to master, which boils down to learning proper form for each workout. In this article, we discuss eight exercises that are bad for your back and three exercises you can do instead to keep your back healthy and strong.


These exercises are bad for your back, here’s why:

1) sit ups:

While sit-ups can be an effective way to strengthen abs, they can also put a lot of stress on your lower back. This is especially true if you’ve had back pain in the past or if you’re not properly contracting your core muscles.

Crunches can put a lot of strain on your lower back, especially if your form is poor. (Image via unsplash/Jonathan Borba)
Crunches can put a lot of strain on your lower back, especially if your form is poor. (Image via unsplash/Jonathan Borba)

2) Deadlift:

Deadlifts are a great exercise for building strength in your legs and back, but they can also cause injury if not done correctly. A common mistake is arching the lower back, which can put undue pressure on the spine and lead to injury.

The deadlift, while a classic back exercise, could actually hurt you over time. (Image via unsplash/Victor Freitas)
The deadlift, while a classic back exercise, could actually hurt you over time. (Image via unsplash/Victor Freitas)

3) Pull-ups:

Pull-ups are a great exercise for building upper body strength, but they can also tax the lower back if not done correctly. People often make the mistake of pulling themselves up with their lower back instead of engaging their upper back and shoulder muscles.

4) Leg Press:

The leg press is a great exercise for building strength in your legs, but it can also put a lot of pressure on your lower back. Using too much weight or not tightening your leg muscles properly can affect you in the long run.

The leg press is a popular leg workout, but it could do more harm than good. (Image via unsplash/Scott Webb)
The leg press is a popular leg workout, but it could do more harm than good. (Image via unsplash/Scott Webb)

5) Military Press:

The military press is a great exercise for building upper body strength, but it can also put a lot of strain on your lower back. This is especially true if you’re using too much weight or not targeting your core muscles properly.

6) Reverse Crunches:

Reverse crunches are a great exercise for strengthening your abdominal muscles, but they can also put a lot of pressure on your lower back. If you have lower back problems, you should definitely avoid this.

7) Upright rows:

The upright row is a great exercise for building upper body strength, but it can also put a lot of stress on your shoulders and lower back.

8) Twists:

Twists are a great core exercise, but they can also put a lot of strain on your lower back. This is definitely an exercise to stay away from, especially if you have oblique and lower back issues.


Instead, do these three exercises

1) Yoga:

Yoga is a form of exercise that can benefit the back in many ways. Yoga poses or asanas are designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the body, including the back muscles. Over time, consistent yoga practice can increase back muscle flexibility, which can help reduce stiffness and pain. Many yoga poses focus on proper spinal alignment, which can help improve posture. Good posture is essential for a healthy back as it reduces stress on muscles and joints.

Yoga also includes elements of meditation and breathing exercises that help relieve stress and tension in the body. Stress and tension can contribute to back pain, so reducing these factors can help reduce pain as well.

Yoga is great for your mind and even better for your back! (Image via Unsplash/Olivia Bauso)
Yoga is great for your mind and even better for your back! (Image via Unsplash/Olivia Bauso)

2) Pilate:

Pilates focuses on exercises that target the core muscles, including the muscles of the lower back. Strong core muscles support the spine, which can help reduce the risk of back pain.

Pilates exercises focus on balance and stability, which can help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall body control. This is particularly beneficial for the back as it can help prevent injury and improve overall functionality.

3) Swimming:

Swimming is a low-impact sport, which means there is minimal stress on the joints and muscles of the body, including the back. This makes it an ideal form of exercise for people with back pain or injuries.

Swimming is a great form of cardio exercise that helps improve cardiovascular health and overall fitness. Good form can help reduce the risk of back pain and injury.


In summary, it’s important to be aware of what exercises you’re doing and how they can affect your back. While certain exercises like sit-ups and deadlifts can put strain on your back, there are many alternative exercises that can help you achieve your fitness goals without putting your back at risk. If you suffer from back pain, it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new exercise program.

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