Pull ups are one of the hardest exercises to do because they require you to pull your body weight up with just your arms and shoulder. In fact, most teens can only do 3 – 8 pull ups in total. Having said that, Pull ups are one of my favorite exercises because they strengthen your back, shoulders, arms and core. For some people, however, pull ups cause lower back pain because they aren’t pulling up with the proper form.
Did you know that you don’t have to do really hard and intense exercises like pull ups to stay fit? Read more on the 6 key benefits of walking here.
Feet Behind you During Pull Ups Causing lower Back Pain
Most of us have definitely done this at least once. In fact, some people classify this as “correct form” when you have your legs bent and your feet crossed behind you. A lot of people have their pull up bar on a doorway which doesn’t have a lot of vertical space that causes them to go beyond their legs behind them.
If you don’t have the vertical space it is actually better for you to bend your knees in front of you so that they are in line with your hips. This allows for you back to remain straight however might be harder since it puts force on your abs. If you can do this then great because it can effectively reduce the lower back pain you were getting while doing pull ups.
Hyperextending your Back During Pull Ups can Cause Lower back pain!
A lot of beginners struggle to do pull ups, ending up attempting them with very poor form which can be bad for your lower back. Don’t worry though, you aren’t alone, my first attempt at a pull up literally involved me kicking my legs everywhere to get my chin over the bar. That was bad, trust me.
One common mistake made by most people is them hyperextending their back, in other words arching your back. This can be done in multiple ways when doing a pull up. For example having your neck tilted all the way back can cause your back to arch. This puts a lot of stress and pressure on the lower back.
Man people also make the mistake of going back instead of going in a vertical translation. This is what I used to do which is completely wrong:
Hyperextending your back can also occur because of your feet behind you when doing a pull up. Keeping your feet behind you arches your back causing a lot of stress on the lower back.
Recording yourself while attempting a new exercise is always a good idea and it will make sure that your back is not arched. The main reason why you’re having back pain during a pull up is because of wrong spine alignment. So keep your back straight when doing a pull up.
Contract Your Core to Avoid Lower Back Bain From Pull Ups
Did you know that your core can increase your balance and can support your spine? So by just engaging your core you can significantly reduce injuries especially from the lower back.
According to Premier Spine Institute, “Abdominal muscles maintain proper spine curvature and a neutral pelvic tilt” which helps prevent back pain. So if you’re feeling your lower back hurting while doing a pull up, try contracting your core muscles.
We have fortunately put together a full abs workout targeting all areas of your abdominal. Check it out here.
Other Reasons that Cause Lower Back Pain
Maybe it isn’t the pull ups you’re doing that is causing the lower back pain. See back pain can be caused because of other factors as well. For example, lifting a heavy object or sleeping in a weird position.
You might also just have weak abdominal muscles which can cause bad posture resulting in lower back pain. But don’t worry. We have made a whole abs workout over here so do check it out.
Another example is if you haven’t done exercise recently. If you haven’t exercised or don’t exercise regularly, unused muscles in the back or in the abdominal can cause lower back pain. You might be doing weight lifting exercises that (if done incorrectly) can cause back pain like deadlifts.
The point is, that pull ups might not even be the reason why you are getting that back pain. If you are still getting lower back pain and you haven’t done anything to cause it, you must see a doctor or health professional to further assist you.
Some exercises for lower back pain relief
Let’s say you have done pull ups with incorrect form, hyper extending your back and now you have this massive lower back pain. How do you get rid of it? Don’t worry, here are some easy ways for lower back pain relief.
Try aerobic exercises like swimming, cycling or walking. These aerobic exercises help strengthen your cardiovascular system, increase your heart rate and get you moving. Swimming in particular is really good when you have lower back pain as the water carries your body giving your back relief from your weight.
Knee to Chest
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Lift one knee to your hands and pull that knee towards your chest.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds
- Then bring the knee back to the starting position and repeat with the other knee.
Cat Cow Position
- Get onto your hands and knees and align your wrists with your shoulders and your knees hip – width apart.
- Arche you back by lifting your belly button up towards the spine with your head dropped forwards
- This is the cat pose, hold for 10 seconds
- Now raise your head up towards the ceiling and let your pelvis fall forward. Curve your back towards the floor.
There are a lot more exercises that can bring lower back pain relief over here.
So, although pull ups are an effective exercise, you need to make sure your form is correct to avoid injuries like lower back pain.