Sit-ups are a standard exercise for those hoping to attain a flat, toned stomach with strong abdominal muscles. If you’re suffering from back pain, though, you may believe that sit-ups can strengthen your lower back and ease the pain. Ultimately, if you push yourself too much or do the exercise incorrectly, your pain will get worse. You may even hurt yourself enough to need urgent medical attention.

If you’ve tried abs workouts that include sit-ups, only to feel a twinge of pain, you’re not alone. When you have existing back pain problems, you need to understand the impact sit-ups could have on your physical health and well-being. The experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute can help.

Why Are Sit-Ups Dangerous for My Back?

This popular exercise can create immense pressure on your spinal disks, especially in your lower back. This can result in creating new back pain or exacerbating existing injury. Some reasons sit-ups can make your bad back worse include:

  • Repeated lumbar flexion. Bending forward at the lower back places immense compressive force on your spine and can lead to injury. Don’t bend over to pick something up; bend your knees.
  • Risk of herniated disc. Sit-ups put force on your spine, which can cause a bulged disc, nerve pain or a painful herniated disc.
  • Tilting of the pelvis anteriorly. Sit-ups involve contracting your hip flexor muscle, which tilts the pelvis toward the front. This can cause lower back pain.
  • Engaging core muscles. Your core muscles work in harmony to support your body. A weak core can cause lower back pain, but you don’t have to hurt yourself to get a strong core.
  • Improper routine. If you do the sit-ups incorrectly, you have a higher risk of lower back pain.
  • Muscle tightness and fatigue. Failure to rest between exercises can lead to lower back pain and aggravate a back injury.

If your back hurts, you may have an inclination to try ways to stretch and manage the pain. Sit-ups are among the most popular exercises to resolve a bad back. Unfortunately, they often do more harm than good.

What Are Alternative Exercises for a Bad Back?

If you have a bad back, don’t just lie down and rest. Moving your body can do you and your back some good, as long as you’re careful. There are exercises that strengthen your back, core and leg muscles. In the process, they support your spine and relieve any lower back pain. Alternative exercises to sit-ups if you have a bad back include:

  • Partial crunches. This exercise builds lower back strength and stomach muscles, while relieving pain.
  • Hamstring stretches. These stretches ease the tension in the back of your leg and relieves pain in the lower spine.
  • Bird dog. This fitness routine helps you learn how to stabilize your low back with arm and leg movements that ease low back pain.
  • Press-up back extensions. This is an effective treatment for back pain symptoms that doesn’t involve a lot of body movement.
  • Lumbar extension stretches. These can help relieve disc herniation pain, but they’re not for pain caused by vertebrae fracture or spinal stenosis.
  • Sciatic nerve stretches. These stretches follow the path of the sciatic nerve and work to relive radiating pain in your legs, buttocks, calf and foot.
  • Wall sits. These exercises are simple alternatives to sitting on your couch to relieve low back pain.

If you have nagging back pain, don’t ignore it. The pain may point to a sinister underlying problem. The spinal specialists at Southeastern Spine Institute offer accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Book an appointment to start living a pain-free life.