We’ve talked a lot about the best exercises for lower back pain.

You know, the movements that will be gentle on your spine while strengthening your lower back muscles and increasing mobility.

But in this post, I want to focus on the worst exercises, the movements to avoid.

And trust me, there are more of them than you might realize!

Some of these exercises will increase the risk of back strain, or will overuse your spinal muscles.

They’re the worst exercises for back pain because they can actually make an existing injury worse or damage a (mostly) healthy spine.

If you’re a spinal-conscious person—which I truly hope you are—make it a point to avoid these exercises as much as possible.

The 9 Worst Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Bent Over Rows – Bent Over Rows are an excellent exercise to target both your upper and lower back at once. Unfortunately, because you’re bent over, all of the weight is placed directly on your spinal muscles. Your spinal muscles are bearing the entire load of both your upper body and the weight you’re rowing. It’s one of the exercises most likely to cause injuries if you’re not careful.

Good Mornings – Good Mornings target your lower back muscles specifically with the goal of strengthening the spinal supporters and increasing lower back mobility. It does so by loading all of the weight on your shoulders, and you then hinge forward at the hips with your spinal muscles doing all of the work of supporting the weight. It’s not a terrible exercise if you are doing it with only your bodyweight or very light weight, but once you start working with heavy weights and low rep ranges, your risk of lower back injury increases exponentially.

The Clean – You would be amazed by how many people injure something when trying to master the Clean. The fact that it’s hugely popular among CrossFitters is directly linked to a spike in injuries—shoulder injuries, arm injuries, and, of course, lower back injuries. The explosive movement can build excellent strength, but for those who are just learning to master the form and don’t yet have the strength, the “jerk” part of the Clean puts your lower back at serious risk.

Standing Toe Touches – This is one of the oldest calisthenics exercises in the books, but it’s also one of the worst for your lower back. It is known to increase strain on your ligaments and spinal discs, as well as pulling on the hamstrings and lower back muscles to the point of OVER-stretching.

Sit-Ups – Sit-Ups are another classic exercise that, sadly, is less than ideal for your lower back muscles. Though the exercise is focused on strengthening your abs, it often strains the hips and lower back, particularly among those who don’t have sufficient core strength to complete their reps. When the abs muscles fail or start to tire out, people often end up using their hip muscles more, which can increase lower back tension and strain. The increased pressure placed on your spinal discs can also drastically raise injury risk.

Back Hyperextensions – This exercise utilizes a special type of bench that locks your legs in place, allowing you to only use your lower back muscles to raise and lower your upper body. While it’s excellent at strengthening a healthy lower back, there is a very real risk of exacerbating back pain if you’re recovering from an injury or strain. The fact that it’s a highly effective isolation exercise with all the effort focused exclusively on your lower back means that it’s one to only do if you are entirely back pain-free.

Running – Running is excellent for weight loss and cardiovascular fitness, but it’s not great for those with back pain. The repeated pounding of your feet against the pavement, track, trail, or treadmill can actually over-stress your spinal column, which can definitely be a problem for anyone suffering from back pain caused by a strained muscle or slipped disc. Running is just too high-impact to be good for your back, and may actually compress your spine and reduce mobility far faster as you age.

High-Impact Exercise – High-impact exercise (such as cross training or plyo training) are definitely dangerous for those with existing back pain. The impact of landing hard from a jump will strain the spinal muscles, joints, and bones, potentially exacerbating injuries and worsening back pain. It’s better to stick with low-impact workouts until your back is back to 100%. Even then, take it slow and reduce impact as much as possible as you work on strengthening your spinal muscles.

Twisting Movements – Sports that causes you to twist your torso—including tennis, soccer, golf, kickboxing, and boxing—can be dangerous for your lower back, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or strain. If you’re going to play sports, be aware of your spinal health and avoid any explosive twisting motions until you’re certain your back muscles can handle it.

Cutting These Exercises for Back Pain are Just Step One

Step Two is taking back control of your spinal health using our highly effective Back on Track System!

Back on Track helps you to address the underlying cause behind so many different back injuries, the dangerous yet often ignored syndrome that could be responsible for your aches and pains. It helps you to focus on the internal problems first, shoring up your spinal health from the inside out. You’ll find it’s wonderful to “bulletproof” your spine against injuries and back pains.

Give Back on Track a try, and it will change your life. As you’re avoiding the worst exercises for lower back pain to avoid, you can take extra steps to strengthen and protect your back starting today!