The lower back is a fragile area of the body because of all the small bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles located there. The slightest miscalculation or wrong move can cause an injury there. Push-ups are a body weight exercise that can have cause lower back pain if done incorrectly.
Push-ups primarily work the chest, triceps and shoulders, which are all in the upper body. The way you can develop lower back pain from push-ups is by using improper form. This is primarily seen in the hips. When you lower yourself down, the last thing you want to do is let your hips sag. This places excess stress on the spine and can cause lower back pain to flare up.
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Push-ups do not seem very complicated when you watch someone crank out reps, but there is more to them than meets the eye. The main point you need to take into consideration is the alignment of your spine. Once you are in the starting position, you should have a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. This is known as a plank pose in yoga. To get into this position, you have to forcefully contract your abs and quadriceps. As you lower yourself to the floor, maintain this straight postural alignment by keeping your abs and quads engaged. Stop when your chest is right above the floor, push yourself back up in a steady motion and repeat. Keeping your abs tight to maintain spine stability is called bracing.
Effect of Weak Abs
Weak abs are major contributors to sagging hips during push-ups. By strengthening your abs, you will not only improve your performance with push-ups, but you will also keep your spine more stable throughout the day. This will help reduce the risk of lower back pain altogether. Perform exercises like leg raises, side crunches, sit-ups and dead bugs to work your entire abdominal area. A dead bug is also a corrective exercise for back pain. To perform it, lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent, your shins parallel to the floor, and your arms extended straight above your chest. Slowly lower your right arm down to the floor behind your head as you extend your left leg out straight. Move your arm and leg back up to the starting position and repeat with your other side. Slowly alternate back and forth.
Excess weight in the stomach places excess strain on the lower back. This is the case while standing up and especially while doing push-ups. By losing your stomach fat, you can reduce your back pain and also perform push-ups with more efficiency. The best way to lose this weight is through cardiovascular exercise. If you have existing back pain, use a recumbent bike. According to Spine-Health, the reclined position of your body and the bucket seat make this machine comfortable for people with mechanical back pain. Unlike in a regular exercise bike, in a recumbent bike the pedals are out in front of you.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.