Walk into any commercial gym and you will often see girls and guys completing sketchy looking exercises that certainly could cause some back issues.
Pair that with sitting in front of a computer all day and you have a recipe for back pain disaster.
Aside from all of the issues that can come about from being desk bound, the biggest exercise culprits are actually the following common practices.
While this exercise is fine if you’re doing it correctly, the reality is that most of us don’t. Instead we use our hip flexors or we lead the movement with our head instead of our core, which puts unnecessary pressure on the neck and upper spine.
If you’re not really feeling your sit up in your core, give this exercise a miss as you can literally work your core in most exercises making this one redundant if you are not doing it properly. Alternate options could be a half crunch, dead bug or a bicycle crunch.
With good form this exercise is fine, but if you don’t know how to lift properly, then goodbye lower back.
Be very careful with overhead lifting exercises as lots of people compensate this exercise by weakening their core and arching their back.
When starting out, always lift light weight to get used to the movement pattern before adding more resistance and heavier weights.
We’re going to go out and say it: Lots of people do not have good squatting technique. Add a heavy weight and you end up grinding your spine in order to stand up under the weight.
If you have been properly trained, squats shouldn’t be an issue for your back, but be mindful of adding weight if you haven’t had your form corrected by a coach and if you are using squats in a HIIT setting.
And remember: technique usually starts to go as you start to get tired.
Running is also a common culprit for back pain due to repeated stress and heavy impact each time your foot strikes the ground.
Make sure you do a series of targeted mobility exercises before you run as if you have tight hips that can be an issue for back pain while running.
Also make sure you buy yourself a pair or supportive shoes; there are a lot of active stores now that have experts who can help you find the best shoe to suit your individual athletic needs.
Ben Lucas, a former professional NRL player, is the owner and co-founder of Flow Athletic, a yoga and fitness studio based in Paddington, NSW, Australia.