4 Exercises That Actually Harmful for Your Back (and What to Do Instead)

4 Exercises That Actually Harmful for Your Back (and What to Do Instead)

Exercise is supposed to be a great way to stay healthy. Unfortunately, not all exercises are beneficial. Burpees, sit-ups, toe touches, and deadlifts can all wreck havoc on your back.

4 Exercises That Actually Harmful for Your Back (and What to Do Instead)


Burpees were developed in the 1930s by a physiologist by the name of Royal H. Burpee. This exercise was created to be done four times in a row to test a patient’s overall fitness level.

To complete burpees, a person does a deep squat and then moves into a plank position. From there, the person brings his or her feet between the hands quickly, then stands again. This exercise makes the quadriceps tighten, then stretch again quickly. Jamie Atlas, a fitness expert and owner of a personal training studio in Denver, says that this exercise hyper extends the knees and irritates the membrane within the synovial joints. Chiropractor Dr. Christopher Notley states that doing 75 burpee reps forces you to flex your back rapidly 150 times. This type of prolonged strain on the lower back can cause pain.

The alternative exercise is: high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Sit Ups

Sit ups are one of the most recognizable calisthenic exercises. To perform a sit up, a person lies with his or her legs flat on the floor with his or her hands locked behind the head. Then, as the exercise suggests, he or she sits straight up, bending at the waist. This exercise causes both the rectus abdomens muscles and the external obliques to contract.

The alternative exercise is: half crunches.

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Sit ups are very taxing on your back. Sit-ups tend to work the hip flexors more than the abdominal muscles. When they are too tight, they shorten and pull on your lower spine. Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at Canada’s University of Waterloo, says that sit ups can squeeze spinal disks.

Toe Touches