If you have back pain or are trying to prevent back pain, you often hear how important it is to strengthen your core.  But the reality is that not every “core” exercise is good for you.

It’s important to strengthen the core, but some exercises are worse for the body, rather than good for the body.  For instance, if you have back pain, it’s important to build up the supporting structure around the spine in order to give stability and strength to the spine.  Let me share one example today of an exercise I don’t recommend.

The Superman

The Superman exercise is one that is often used in fitness classes and even by personal trainers to make the back “stronger”.  The downside is that it simply overloads the spine beyond what is reasonable.  It would be the equivalent of picking up something that is way too heavy for you, that you can’t pick up correctly, just to get stronger.  How much force does this exercise put on your body?  About 1,300 pounds!  That is about twice as much force on the spine than what is necessary to start causing damage to the connective tissue and discs of the spine.

If this is part of your regular fitness routine, please stop before you do major damage to your spine.  And just because the fitness instructor says you should do it, doesn’t mean you have to.  This is your spine to protect, and you have to do what is right to make sure it lasts a long time.

If you have questions, feel free to contact us or comment below.

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2 Responses

  1. That’s very possible Liz. Realize that flexibility and strength do now always go hand-in-hand. So just because she has tremendous range of motion, you should definitely still strengthen the core independently. I have several exercises that I absolutely love for developing deep core strengthening, but the is one key to all of them. The person has to be able to control the position of their lumbar spine. I’ll give you an example. Sometimes I use a blood pressure cuff to see how much a person can control their lumbar spine. I don’t have a video explaining it, but here is a video of someone else explaining it. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmgt71_core-torture-using-a-blood-pressure-cuff_school

    I hope this helps explain a little more about true core strengthening. Please let me know if you have any other questions though.

  2. I’m with you on the Superman! I have a very strong back, and this exercise will make me break out in pain if I do it more than a few days in a row. I actually think it is because my back is so strong. I’m not trying to brag at all, but if I apply all the strength of my back, then I think it squeezes something in my spine with the huge forces you are referring to here. I’ve put this exercise into my regime many times over the last twenty years, and every time I have to take it back out after a few days because of pain.