Why Does My Back Hurt When I Do Abs? Solving the Mystery.

Staying fit is one of the essential things in life, and we all want to have a well-toned body with strong abs. However, most times, people complain of back pains when they exercise their abs. There are only a few things more infuriating than trying to work out and feeling pain in places you know should not hurt. In this article, we will discuss why your back hurts while doing abs and how to solve the mystery behind it.

Understanding Abs and Back Pain

The abs are a group of muscles located in your abdomen, and they play a vital role in body stability and movement. At the same time, the back muscles are crucial in posture and movement. When these muscles work together, they keep your body stable, balanced and help you perform daily activities with ease. However, if there is an imbalance in the muscles, you may experience back pain while working your abs.

Causes of Back Pain While Doing Abs Workouts

Several reasons can cause back pain during core exercises. Let’s discuss some of the most common ones:

  • Weak Core Muscles: One of the main reasons people experience back pain while doing abs is because of a weak core. The core muscles help stabilize your spine, and when they are not strong enough, your spine takes on the work of supporting your body, causing stress on the lower back muscles.
  • Improper Form: Incorrect technique during ab exercises can lead to back pain. For example, lifting your shoulders off the ground during a sit-up will cause you to use your hip flexors and strain your back muscles.
  • Overuse of Hip Flexors: The hip flexors are a group of muscles that run from your thigh bone to your lower back. If you overuse these muscles, they can pull on your lower back, causing back strain.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis, can cause back pain while working out your abs.

Best Abs Workouts To Avoid Back Pain

Here are some of the best abdominal workouts that won’t cause back pain:

  • Plank: The plank is an isometric exercise that strengthens multiple muscle groups, including the abs, without straining your back.
  • Bird Dog: The bird dog exercise involves the extension of one leg and the opposite arm, which engages your core without placing too much stress on your back.
  • Reverse Crunch: The reverse crunch exercise involves bringing your knees towards your chest while lying on your back, which engages the lower abs and puts less stress on your lower back.
  • Bridge: The bridge exercise works on your glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles, which improves your posture and reduces back pain.

Preventative Techniques for Back Pain while doing Abs Workouts

Here are some tips that can help prevent back pain when working out your abs:

  • Focus on Form: Proper form means avoiding exercises that excessively strain your back, like crunches or sit-ups. Instead, focus on exercises with good form like planks, side planks, or bicycles.
  • Stretch and Warm-Up: Warming up before a workout helps reduce the risk of injury, including back pain. Start with some light cardio and stretch your tight muscle groups before you begin.
  • Strengthen Your Core: A weak core equals more back pain. So, work on strengthening your core through exercise like Pilates or yoga to reduce back pain.
  • Listen and Follow Your Body: You won’t make progress if you injure yourself. Therefore, pay attention to your body and listen to it. If you experience back pain, you need to modify your workout or stop entirely for a while.


The most important thing to remember is that a balanced workout routine should include strengthening both the abs and back muscles. Our bodies work as one unit, and all muscles have to work optimally to prevent injuries and pain. Finally, always check with a doctor or physical therapist before beginning a workout program or if you experience any persistent irritation or discomfort.


  • Can exercise balls help alleviate back pain?
    Yes, exercise balls can help reduce back pain. Sitting on an exercise ball helps engage your core muscles and is less straining to your back
  • Can yoga help with back pain?
    Yes, yoga can help with back pain. Stretching and relaxation techniques involved in yoga help to improve the flexibility and mobility of the lower back.
  • Is it safe to work out with lower back pain?
    It is not safe to work out with lower back pain, as it can worsen your condition. Instead, allow your back some time to reduce inflammation and heal before resuming your workout routine.


D. M. Brown, & C. J. Jordon. (2013). Exercise for the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of low back pain in the workplace: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation,23(3), 389-399.

G. Kellet. (2007). Acute low back pain: prevention and management. Hong Kong Medical Journal,13(3), 226-231.

M. Borenstein. (2001). Low back pain: Medical diagnosis and comprehensive management. W.B. Saunders.

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