Five Movements that could hurt your back

You may be paying attention to your posture and doing your back exercises conscientiously, but still undo all the good work with some seemingly harmless movements. It can be so discouraging, and the culprit is usually a simple movement that you’ve always done effortlessly and without thinking, such as tying shoelaces or reaching into a high cupboard. Look after your back even better and try to avoid these five movements that could hurt your back. Some of the tips are also important to prevent back pain, as they are about making daily tasks more efficient and safe for your back.


We are not always aware how frequently we lift and carry things until our back hurts: placing a child on your lap, picking up your rucksack, taking wet laundry out of the washing machine. When your back hurts, it is crucial to avoid bending over and straightening your back while carrying a heavy load. This is because your lower back does all the work. In fact, even when you have no back pain, this way of lifting is not a good idea. Obviously, when your back pain is acute, avoid lifting altogether. Once in the recovery stage, learn to bend your legs and keep your back straight. While straightening the legs, it is the legs that do the work rather than your back.


If squatting is not easy, try to go down on one knee instead. In fact, learning to squat or lowering yourself on one knee (using a padded surface if necessary and alternating knees) is an important skill to have or to develop when your back hurts. This is not to say that you can never bend your back at all: of course it is best to keep the spine mobile with specific back exercises. However, try to keep your back straight while lifting things.


Bending down

Bending forward, often with a twisting movement added to it, is another movement we do repeatedly without being aware of it: putting shoes on, tying shoelaces, picking something off the floor, emptying the dishwasher, etc. When picking something off the floor, it is again important to keep the back fairly straight and bend the legs, either by squatting, bringing one knee to the floor or bending the legs a lot.


One-sided sports and running

This may be bad news for those of you who love golf, tennis, squash, running, … Having to stop your favourite activity is hopefully just temporary. But while your back is achy, try to find another exercise that you love and that does not hurt, such as walking or swimming.

“Crunching” to come out of bed

Many people upset their back by coming out of bed in the wrong way: they crunch up, bringing head and shoulders up and over to one side. If the back muscles are fragile, they may suddenly spasm. So instead, make a habit of rolling over to the side and pushing yourself up with one or both hands. In this way your arms take the load away from the back.


A regular yoga class

It is possible that a gentle yoga class is helpful when you have a tight lower back. For more serious back pain, however, a general yoga class is not suitable and may even be harmful. Yoga therapy in a one-to-one setting is different. You are told which poses to avoid and which to practise. Yoga therapists have had additional training; they know that the diverse causes of back pain call for different approaches. They also know that every back is different and what helps one person may have to be adapted for the other person. So while yoga therapy can be helpful to heal your back pain, a regular yoga class usually isn’t.

If you would like more tips of how to keep your back safe, specifically with movements we often unknowingly do at home, do subscribe to this blog. Not only will you get tips for a healthy back twice a month, but you will also get the free “How to Keep Your Back Safe at Home Guide.”

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