4 Exercises That Actually Harmful For Your Back (And What to Do Instead)
Although regular exercise is required in order to stay fit and healthy, some exercises such as burpees, sit-ups, toe touches and deadlifts can do great damage to your back.
Burpees were created in the 1930s by a psychologist named Royal H. Burpee. The exercise was created to be done 4 times in a row and was supposed to test a patient’s fitness level. You can perform burpees by deep squatting and moving in a plank position. While down on the floor, bring your feet between the hands quickly and stretch again. However, according to Jamie Atlas, a fitness expert and a professional gym studio owner, burpees can hyperextend the knee and irritate the membrane in the synovial joints. Dr. Christopher Notley, a chiropractor, says that 75 burpees force you to flex your back quickly for 150 times, which results in lower back pain.
Burpee alternative: High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Sit-ups are one of the most popular exercises. They are performed by lying on the floor and putting your hands behind your head, then sitting straight up while bending at the waist. This causes both rectus abdomens and external obliques muscles to contract. However, sit-ups can be very tough on your back, as they tend to work the hip flexors more than the abdominal muscles. If they are too tight, they shorten and pull on your lower spine, resulting in squeezed spinal disks.
Sit-ups alternative: half-crunches.
Toe touches can be performed by standing up straight then bending at the waist to touch your toes. This exercise stretches the 4-muscle group on the back of each thigh – the hamstrings. As there is no support from the back muscles, toe touches strain the ligaments around the hamstrings and put the spinal disks under pressure as well. According to Dr. Jolie Bookspan, toe touches are very damaging to your back.
Toe touches alternative: supine hamstring stretch.
Deadlift is a popular exercise which involves standing behind a weight on the floor, then bending at the knees and lifting the weight while locking the hips and knees. This exercise works all the muscles from the base of your skull to the lower spine, while the gluteous maximus muscles move the top of your pelvis back. Your quadriceps do a lot of work during deadlift too.
However, Dr. Stuart McGill states that if done incorrectly, deadlift can put a lot of stress to the spine and damage the sciatic nerve, with ruptured disks being a common injury caused by the exercise.
Deadlift alternative: leg presses on a machine.
These four exercise can cause serious injuries, so you should avoid them and try to perform the alternatives we mentioned.