Avoid these exercise mistakes and prevent back pain
March 29, 2022

Avoid these exercise mistakes and prevent back pain

Rachel Wadsley, PhD

“No pain, no gain” gets thrown around in the world of fitness. But there are different degrees of pain and causes. Since 80% of adults experience lower back pain, that’s our focus today. 

We will look at what types of back pain are normal (or cause for concern), mistakes to avoid, and exercises that aren’t the best if you have back pain. 

Should you be worried about back pain caused by working out?

The answer is… it depends. Some minor aches and pains are common and expected during and after a workout. Exercise challenges muscles groups and creates micro-tears. This is what makes your muscles strengthen. 

Expected times to feel minor back tension or soreness:

  • During back exercises
  • During core exercises
  • 6-8 hours post workout
  • 24-48 hours post workout pain peaks
  • Up to 72 hours post workout

Warning signs to stop and contact your doctor:

  • Sharp pain
  • Sudden pain
  • Very localized pain
  • Pain lasting more than 72 hours
  • Numbness/ tingling
  • Limb weakness
  • Pain impacts your sleeping

Common exercise mistakes

Not warming up

Imagine the mental exhausting and headache you’d feel attempting Wordle on zero sleep. That’s how your body feels when you rush into a workout which is a recipe for pain and injuries. Take a few minutes to warm up your muscles. They will be grateful, and you’ll have a more productive workout.  

Skipping stretching

It’s tempting to end a workout when you finish that last rep. But loosening up your muscles is essential. Tight muscles equal back pain. For maximum back soothing, try doing full body stretches and give extra love to your hamstrings and hips.   

Diving all in

We know you’re pumped and excited to reach your goals, see how much weight you can lift, or how fast you can complete a run. Your body just needs to catch up with that enthusiasm! Many injuries are preventable by taking it slow and steady. 

Poor form

Are you doing your exercises correctly? Even subtle errors in body positioning can increase the risk of back pain and injury. A personal trainer can help you identify and correct form mistakes. Trainwell (formerly CoPilot) gives you a real-life on-demand trainer anywhere you are!

Exercises to avoid if you have back pain


Working on your core can help back strength and reduce pain. The secret is using the best type of core exercise. Traditional sit-ups put a lot of pressure on your spine. Instead, try partial sit-up and never pull your neck off the floor. If you feel strain in your beck or spine, it’s time to stop and consult a trainer for proper form. 

High impact twisty workouts

Pass on workouts that jar your spine, require you to twist, or have a lot of repetitive movements. Seek out low-impact exercises and yoga can be great ways to strengthen and stretch your body while reducing back pain. Let your trainer or yoga teacher know about your back issues so they can suggest modifications.  

Standing toe-touches

If you have back issues, doing a standing toe-touch can stretch your back more than your hamstrings and lead to more pain. You might be thinking, “what do my hamstrings have to do with my back?” Well… tight hamstrings can increase pressure on your lower back. Instead, you can try single-arm toe touches which help stretch both sides of the body, back, hips, and hamstrings evenly. 

Now you’re armed with information on keeping you back in good shape and feeling great.  If you’d like to get some 1-on-1 feedback and support to create a back healthy workout plan, sign up for a free trainwell trial today. Your dedicated trainer will listen to your challenges and goals to develop a customized workout plan and provide feedback on form. 

Written by Rachel Wadsley, PhD

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