Because of our sedentary, cubicle-based society, it can seem like we have two types of people: those with back pain. and those who will experience it in the future. The gym always has been a breeding ground for back ailments as guys try to push the limits of what they can lift. That’s truer these days because of tighter hips, glutes, and hamstrings —a product of a life led at a desk and hunched over a smart phone.
Back pain can be a result of a herniated disc but more often is the result of something else along the kinetic chain that has caused the body to compensate. That’s why when taking care of the back in the gym it’s important to consider not only moves included in back-specific workouts but also in other routines that could impact the back.
Here are seven exercises that could contribute to back pain, along with alternatives to consider.
1. Situps and Crunches
Why You Should Avoid It: We spend far too much time in the flexed position between sitting at desks and cramped behind steering wheels and in airline seats. As a result, our shoulders are rounded and our bodies unnaturally flexed forward. So the last thing we should do is exacerbate this problem further with situps and crunches.
What You Should Do Instead: Physioball Ys and Ts. Lie facedown on a physioball and bring your shoulder blades together to raise your arms to a “Y” 10 times and then a set of “T”s for 10 reps. You’ll strengthen and stabilize the shoulders, countering the effects of sitting, and reducing the risk of low back pain. Not challenging enough? Add a pair of light dumbbells.