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Fitness Tip Tuesday – Preventing Lower Back Pain

By September 11, 2012April 16th, 201412 Comments

preventing back pain

As a newbie to fitness years ago, I remember taking fitness classes at an all-women’s gym. The classes always involved a ton of abdominal exercises that always ended up hurting my lower back and neck.

Exercises that target the lower abdominals often involve raising your legs, such as the leg raise off the stability ball in Curavlicious. Experiencing pain in your lower back is caused from the distance between your feet and your body. The further your feet are away from your body, the greater torque. Or simply, the greater distance your feet are away from the body the more stress will be placed on your lower back.

TORQUE – PUSH OR PULL THAT CAUSES MOVEMENT AROUND AN AXIS                (in this case the axis is the lower back)

Think about torque for a moment. If we are holding one arm straight out to the side, there is a large distance between our hand and our torso. We know that the farther a body part is away from the rest of the body, the greater the torque. You can hold your arm out straight to the side for quite some time, but what happens when you add a 5 pound dumbbell? That position becomes much harder to hold.

Now bring that same arm with the dumbbell and hold it against your body.  You can hold that position a lot longer because there isn’t a great amount of torque.



1. Build your core strength.

2. Simply bring your legs in closer to your body by bending at the knees. Do not extend your legs fully and stop just before you feel your lower back engage.

3. Perform lower abdominal exercises on a dip station or captain’s chair. Keep your position vertical will create less stress on your lower back.

abdominal exercises

Using a captain’s chair creates less stress of the lower back

See also: Ab Toning Exercises, Make sure you are NOT doing this!

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Brenda says:

    Thanks for the tip..Great looking exercise!

  • P says:

    Thanks for the great info…back pain has been a problem for years due to degen. disc issues. Would love to see more info on excercise subs we can use when low back pain is a problem. Would also LOVE to have more info on body building. I have been using you Musclicious program for awile now and would love to have a few new routines to change things up a bit and take it to the next level! 🙂

  • Lori/Souper17 says:

    How timely is this?! I did Day 2 of Muscle today and after work today I noticed my back feeling kind of sore and it makes sense after reading your post. The cable chest press with a twist(Ryan’s concoction) had me challenged. I struggled with getting the form correct and wasn’t sure if I was moving my core area correctly…and it feels really sore now. Any pointers???

    I’ll re-watch the video and hope to perfect it next time so I don’t have this soreness. Loving the Muscilicious program so far!!!

    One thing for sure I’m adjusting to is the 90 second rest period. I’m so used of doing the circuit style in Curve with no rest between exercises, I really struggle waiting between exercises or sets. Why the 90 second wait…can I reduce it to 60 if I feel rested???? Perhaps a blog post on rest periods for the different programs?! Thanks!

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Lori,

      I think you mean the One-Arm Cable Chest Press. For this one, make sure you keep your abdomen tight so not allow the weight to put pressure in your back. Also, note from the video that I do not press out with my arm until I am fully turned to the direction I am about to push. This prevents using the back to control the weight.

      For the rest periods – yes you can change it to 60 seconds. The reason for the 90 seconds is to let your muscles recover so you can use a heavier weight. This allows your muscles to recover better and will ultimately add size quicker to your muscle…so that depends on the goal of the exercise (gote)

      • Lori/Souper17 says:

        2nd week of Muscle and I did the One-Arm Cable Chest Press as you suggested and waited to press until my core was fully turned and it worked perfectly!!! No back pain! Also, I able to press more!!!

        It’s amazing how much strength you gain quickly…today it was 15, 20 & 25lb dumbbells for most of my exercises…woohoo! And, I did 60 seconds rest between super sets, but then 90 seconds after 3 rounds of of the supersets.

        Loving Musclicious…tomorrow is a rest day from the program but I’ll be doing HIIT cardio first thing after I wake-up to reeve up my metabolism!!!

  • Ina says:

    Hi, I want to buy your exercize dvd’s. I want something I can use at hom. I am not a member of a gym. What do you suggest I get

  • toni says:


    How do you prevent that thickened middle I see in all the women doing the Insanity workout?
    Your waistline always keeps that feminine contour.

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Tori, you keep it small by not adding a lot of weight when doing oblique work. So any side bends or outer abdominal exercises keep bodyweight or light weight.

  • mary ellen says:

    could you explain the low abd w/o tip #3 using a dip station, adapted for home use? I broke 2 vertebrae 5 weeks ago and currently in a brace for 6 more weeks. I am trying to figure out how to get back to where i was when this is all over knowing that i will be somewhat starting over and will need to be very careful form here on in in modifying what i do so as not to aggravate my new chronic condition

  • Michelle says:

    Can I turn Muscilious into a MRT workout if I keep the reps higher, weight lighter and reduce the rest?? I really want to burn more fat than try and build muscle at this point, and I’ve already been through Flavialiscious and Curvaliscious. I’m looking for a new routine for the next 6 weeks.

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