5 Exercises To Avoid If You Have Low Back Pain (Flexion Intolerant Part 2.)


Part 1. of this series revealed 5 main exercises you should probably avoid if you've got extension based back pain. I bet some of you didn't even know there were different exercise recommendations for different types of back pain.

Part 2. is about to teach you the 5 exercises to avoid if you're suffering from Flexion Based Back Pain.

I'll skip the long introduction, you can read part 1 for that. Let's get right into testing to see if you've got flexion based back pain. Click the vid below:

Here's my top 5 exercises to SKIP if you've got Flexion Based Back Pain. Don't worry, I give you some equally effective alternatives.

1. Sit ups / Crunches

I know, I know... These guys are staple core exercises that will never go away but probably should.


Because you can train the core just as effectively without rounding your spine and putting loads of pressure on each disc. Your discs only last so long, why f*ck with them and repeatedly flex your low back when you're already in pain?!

Yes, increasing core strength and endurance is part of the low back rehab protocol however, there are far better exercises to try. Here are two of them:

McGill Curl Ups


2. ATG Squats

Cheeeeaaaaapppppp, using the same exercise as in Part 1... It's for a good reason, just look at your lumbar spine when you squat ass to grass. Most people (some exceptions) have poor control and poor mobility and when you squat that low with load on your back, your spine flexes and can irritate or injure your discs even further.

Squats are obviously amazing, don't stop doing them, just watch your Range of Motion and maybe go to parallel, your back will thank you. You can also try front squats, they tend to keep your back more upright and neutral or extended.


Doesn't matter if you're bending over to deadlift, tie your shoes, or God knows what else, try not to round your low back. I've seen people irritate a herniated disc injury just by bending over without load on their back, forget about deadlifting. 

Deadlifting and other "picking up from the floor exercises" can actually be great for Flexion intolerant back pain however, you need to maintain a neutral or slightly extended spine. Don't f*ckin round over or you'll pay for it.


4. Bicycle Crunches

Bicyle Twist from pexels.com

Bicyle Twist from pexels.com

Now she's really done it ^. We've been over the sit up and why it's bad for low back pain patrons. This exercise adds a rotational aspect to the standard crunch *palm to my own face*. As if flexing the spine isn't bad enough, you now have torsion (aka. rotational sheer force) on the same injured back literally asking for the nerves in your back to be irritated.

If you want to hammer your obliques, your much better off doing any of the following exercises:

1. Side Planks

This exercises works your obliques and muscular endurance while forcing you to stabilize the spine (if you do it right). This means no severe forces from spinal flexion or rotation is involved.

2. Birddog Progressions

These exercises challenge your obliques and ability to remain stable also while maintaining a neutral spine and not causing unnecessary back stress. 

5. Overhead Anything

Oops, I did it again. It's for your own good. I've gotta hammer home the fact that anything overhead - no matter what type of low back pain you have - is no good. When you put your arms and the load overhead, your core becomes challenged to maintain a stable upright position all while preventing hyper-extension or flexion of the spine. There point here is that it's not a safe "core challenge" for someone suffering from low back pain. Instead it's a "one wrong move in either direction and you're probably gonna tweak your back even worse".

What should you do instead? Anything else not overhead, of course.

Choose any other pressing variation. Flat bench press, dumbbell bench, push ups. If you're wondering how you can target your delts, do lateral raise variations. 

If you really wanna get rid of back pain, the first step is to not do anything that will aggravate it or make it worse. There's no excuses now that you have these alternatives in your exercise repertoire. 


Check out my ebook Back To The Gym to learn all you need to know about low back rehab and a program to help you get back to the gym!