Is Working Out Bad for Your Back?

If you’re someone who suffers from back pain, you might be wondering if working out is bad for your back. Here’s what you need to know.


While the benefits of exercise are widely known and understood, there are some cases in which exercising can be detrimental to your health. A common area of concern is activity and its effects on your back. Since it’s one of the most mobile parts of your body, proper technique is essential when engaging in activities that could possibly strain it. Many people want to know: Is working out bad for your back?

In order to answer this question, it’s important to understand the different types of exercise that can put extra strain on your back and how to properly engage in them without causing damage. Common activities like running, weight lifting, rowing or any type of equipment-based workouts all have different potential effects on the spine when done incorrectly. Understanding the basics about how each one puts stress on different parts of your body helps you decide if a specific activity might be beneficial or detrimental for your particular situation.

Causes of Back Pain

Back pain can be caused by a number of factors. Some of these causes can be related to working out, such as improper form, overtraining, or using too much weight. Other causes of back pain can include poor posture, muscular imbalances, or lifestyle factors such as a sedentary lifestyle or poor nutrition. Let’s discuss the various causes of back pain in order to better understand how to prevent it.

Poor Posture

One of the most common causes of back pain is poor posture, especially when sitting or standing. This places strain on the spine, which in turn can lead to discomfort and even long-term injury. Sitting in a chair without proper support can cause your spine to shift from its natural position, resulting in excessive pressure on certain areas and imbalances in your posture muscles. Standing for long periods of time can also cause spasm and ache, as your body isn’t able to rest regularly.

Incorrect lifting technique can also be a common cause, as it puts extra tension on all back muscles and joints. You should always keep your back straight with your shoulders square when bending over to lift objects off the floor, as twisting or turning may strain muscles or ligaments. If you have to carry a heavy load, lift with your legs rather than bending at the waist; this will reduce stress on your spine as well as help you avoid injuries such as muscle pulls. Remember to take regular breaks if you are standing for extended periods of time.

Weak Core Muscles

When the core muscles are particularly weak, the body has to use other muscles, commonly in the neck and back, to compensate for their lack of strength. These tissues can become sore from overuse and this can lead to back pain. One way to identify weak core muscles is if you have difficulty maintaining proper posture when doing activities like standing or walking.

To prevent pain from weak core muscles, a regular exercise program that strengthens all of the major muscle groups of your body—including those of your torso—is essential. Regular exercises for strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles should be incorporated into any exercise regimen to build core strength and avoid pain in those areas. Core exercises should specifically focus on these muscle groups: transversus abdominis (deep abdominal muscle), rectus abdominis (muscle responsible for crunch sit-ups), internal and external obliques (muscles that run along the sides of your abdomen), multifidus (back muscle near spinal column) and erector spinae (muscles around upper back).

Poor Form

Poor form during exercise can often lead to back pain. When the body is not held in the correct position during a workout, the muscles, joints and soft tissue of the back may be strained and stressed in ways they shouldn’t be. Good form should always be a priority when going through an exercise program — even if it means you can lift less or move more slowly at first until your body is accustomed to proper movement patterns.

Proper form begins with proper posture: head upright, chest open, core engaged and shoulders down and back. Research suggests that maintaining this neutral spine position reduces stress on your spinal discs and vertebrae — reducing pain and strain in your lower back muscles.

Good posture also involves engaging your core to support your spine throughout all exercises. Fostering strong core muscles helps prevent excessive strain on other muscles while they are in motion, keeping you safe from injury while performing physical activity. Additionally, many exercises require special attention to smaller muscle groups around the abdominals and obliques which are essential for safe movement in pushing, pulling and twisting motions. Tightening these muscles keeps spinal discs compressed properly so that straining does not occur.

Finally, proper exercise form requires precise technique throughout each movement — no matter what type of exercise you do or how long you have been doing it for — with attention given to every muscle group involved so that unnecessary strain or potential injury is avoided as much as possible. With enough practice though repetition supervised by an experienced trainer or coach if needed, you can ensure that all motions are done correctly from beginning to end on any type of exercise regimen you decide take part in for a healthy lifestyle!

Types of Exercises to Avoid

When it comes to working out and protecting your back, it is important to know which exercises to avoid. While every person is different, there are some general types of exercises that could cause potential injury or pain in the back. Identifying these exercises and understanding how to modify them can go a long way towards keeping your back safe.

Heavy Weightlifting

Heavy weightlifting can be dangerous, particularly when the incorrect posture is adopted. Poor form, particularly when attempting to lift heavier weights than you are used to, can increase the risk of injury to the back and other muscles. Powerlifting and bodybuilding put you at risk of excessive strain on your spine and the surrounding muscles, which can lead to discomfort or paralysis. Therefore, it is generally recommended that individuals who experience any issues with their back should avoid heavy weightlifting.

Common exercises to avoid include squats or activities that require an over-arching of the spine as this type of exercise puts too much pressure on your vertebrae and surrounding tissue. Deadlifts are another exercise that should be avoided if your spine health is poor; this exercise requires various components such as flexing your spine in certain ways while holding heavy weights in front of you which can cause serious complications if done incorrectly; therefore it should be avoided unless recommended by a medical professional. Additionally, it may be a good idea to avoid any type of strength training involving activities such as lifting barbells overhead or picking up heavy objects off the floor unless done so with caution and proper technique being followed from an experienced individual. Lastly, bench presses also put too much pressure on your back which could lead to further complications down the line therefore should only be undertaken when instructed by a qualified individual who can demonstrate appropriate form with lighter weights first before attempting then progressing onto heavier ones.

High Impact Exercise

High impact exercises involve a lot of energy and can place excessive stress on the joints and muscles of the body. That’s why if you’re suffering from any kind of back injury, it’s important that you avoid any type of high impact exercises. The list below will help you identify which exercises fall into this category:
-High intensity interval training (HIIT)
-Contact sports like rugby and hockey

If you have limited mobility due to a back injury, high impact exercises would be too much strain on your body and may worsen your condition. Moderate cardio activities such as light jogging, walking or cycling are much safer and should be considered as suitable alternatives. Alternatively, strength or resistance workouts like using light weights may also be beneficial for your overall health while avoiding further injuries to the back.

Repetitive Motion Exercises

Repetitive motion exercises, such as running or weightlifting, can be especially harmful to those suffering from chronic lower back pain. These exercises can cause the back and surrounding muscles to contract repetitively, creating a sensation of soreness. This type of soreness typically manifests as tightened muscles creating inflexibility and decreased range of motion in that area. Repetitive motions can also increase strain on the back due to weakened areas not receiving proper support from the stronger ones.

Furthermore, engaging in repetitive motion exercises with improper form or posture can place increased stress on the spine and surrounding muscles—accentuating existing pain and potentially leading to further injury. Individuals suffering from any type of chronic lower back pain should attempt to modify existing activities while making sure they are using correct form when engaging in any physical activity—especially those that involve repetitive motions—to ensure proper protection for their low back region.

How to Exercise Safely

Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and fit but it is not without its risks. One of the main things you need to be mindful of is protecting your back during exercise. Not only can certain exercises be bad for your back, but incorrect form can cause even more issues. In this article, we will take a look at how to exercise safely and protect your back from injury.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Warm-up: Before beginning any exercise routine, it is important to warm up your body by stretching and engaging in some light cardio. This helps begins the flow of oxygen to your muscles while also preparing them for physical activity. If you are participating in activities like running or high-intensity interval training, consider engaging in a dynamic warm-up wherein you gradually incorporate exercises within the action instead of static stretching before.

Cool-down: A cool-down period is just as important as the warm up. Having a cooldown period after a tough workout allows for gradual muscle relaxation and also helps regulate your heart rate back to normal. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to stretch muscles that may have been overlooked during the initial warm-up phase which can reduce the risk of injury from reduced flexibility. Doing things like gentle jogging or walking are good ways to close out a tough workout session and ensure that your body will recover properly.

Use Proper Form

When exercising, it is crucial to have good form and use proper technique. Maintaining proper form throughout your exercise sets will help you strength train without pain or injury. The best way to ensure good form is to start with lighter weight or no weight at all. Using a slow and steady movement, which allows the muscles to be used instead of jerking or bouncing the weight up and down rapidly, is beneficial for optimal muscle growth in a safe manner. Additionally, using proper posture will also help protect your back from injury due to overextension of the spinal muscles. To obtain proper posture, it is important to keep your head lifted and make sure your back stays as straight as possible with a slight arch in your lower back; this helps provide extra support for the vertebrae of the spine. Every time you’re lifting a weight- no matter how heavy- always keep the full range of motion within a comfortable level. This should allow you to move easily while remaining aware of any tension in your body which could occur if there’s too much strain being placed on one area. Performing any type of stretching before and/or after each exercise will assist in relaxation as well as lengthening tight muscles that can often lead to pain or discomfort when not addressed appropriately. Finally, always consult with a medical professional prior to starting any new exercise regimen if you have an existing medical condition.

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks during your workout is a great way to help reduce the risk of back strain, aches and pains. Working out for too long can put extra pressure on your back, exhausting the natural shock-absorbing system in your spine. Taking breaks will reduce the buildup of lactic acid and allow your body time to adjust and rest. It’s important to take a break when you’re feeling fatigued or when you start to feel pain in your back. If you ignore these signs, you could be putting yourself at risk for an injury.

It’s important to remember that taking a break is not the same as stopping completely. You can take a five or ten minute break every 30 to 45 minutes of exercise, or every hour if engaging in more strenuous fitness activities like weightlifting or running long distances. During that break, make sure to do some light stretching which can help relax tightened muscles and prevent cramping or soreness later on. Stretching can also increase circulation which can help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place!


In conclusion, working out can be beneficial to your back health if done correctly. There are several exercises that can strengthen the muscles supporting your back and help reduce chronic pain. Additionally, a program of stretching and strengthening the back along with improving overall posture can help prevent future injuries associated with exercising. Furthermore, it is important to understand how to use proper form when performing exercises and to ensure you are using the best machine or equipment available. Taking time to warm up prior to exercising can also help prevent injuries and lessen any pain associated with specific exercises or movements. Finally, it is important to listen to your body and respond accordingly when experiencing pain or injury while working out. By making sure you’re taking the necessary steps for a safe workout, you can protect your back from potential harm while still getting a good workout in!

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