Back pain: 4 exercises that will not help will target the 4 most common exercises that will not help your back. I will discuss why they don’t work and what you can do to actually help your back. Here they are:

  1. Bending down and touching your toes.
  2. Getting on the floor, on your knees, and bending forward
  3. Placing a roller under your back and rolling back and forth.
  4. Lying on your back while pulling your knees up to your chest.
Older men and women in a line touching their toes

Touching Your Toes

This is one that most people do and I get why it makes sense to them. By leaning forward it is allowing the spine to expand and that is good. The problem is, it may not be addressing the problem. If you have back pain or stiffness when you stand up after sitting or lying down, standing for a period of time, or every time you bend over then stand back up, this exercise will not help you. The pain is in your low back, but the cause of your pain in the front thighs or inner thighs. It feels good while you are doing it because it takes the pressure off. However, the minute you stand back up, the pressure is re-applied. Imagine, if you placed large rubber bands under your feet and held the other end in your hands. If the bands are short and you have to pull them to stand up, think how it would be before your back would tired out. That is what the front of your body is doing to your back.

Bending Forward on Your Knees

Again, this sounds like a great idea at first, but if the cause is on the front side, this will not work. On top of that, if the front of your thighs is tight, this will place extra tension on your knees and shins which can lead to knee pain. Besides, if the front or inner thighs are tight, all you are doing here is maintaining the shortened position. If your 3 hamstrings are tight and you feel back pain while sitting, you are still releasing the cause of your pain. It feels good at the moment, but it is helping nothing. See this blog post,

Using a Roller on Your Back

This one has become the rage in fitness centers and PTs, but the truth is, this does very little for your back. When rolling on a roller it can hurt a lot. The reason for that is the build-up of tight muscles from using them and you are trying to force out that tightness. The problem here is, your brain is fighting back. What you can do with a roller is not roll on it, but just lie back with it under your back, breathe out, and feel the abdominal muscles letting go. You can do this all over your spine, one place at a time. I see trainers and therapists advising people to tighten their abs and hips then push with their legs. Those 3 areas when tight, will cause back pain.

Lying on Your Back and Pull Your Knees to Your Chest

This has been around for 100 years and it seems odd that people still do it. Like the other 3, the idea is, if I can lengthen my spine this will help. The truth is, only while you are in that position. Thee is a variation of this that will help your hips, but not your back. When you bring your knees straight towards your chest, the upper leg bone will collide with your pelvis, limiting the movement of the hip. Helping neither the back nor the hip. Instead, you can bring your knees up, but spread them out as if you are pulling them towards your armpits. This will free up your hips and help lubricate the joint.


These 4 exercises will not improve your back pain. There are stretches that will help your back. The question to ask is what caused the pain. An x-ray or MRI shows the damage done, not what caused it. If left untreated, minor back pain can lead to severe back issues and maybe surgery down the road. Like other health care professionals, we have all been trained to treat the symptoms and not the cause. Finding the cause of your pain early can save you a lot of money and time suffering. To see my videos go to. You can also contact me for an appointment at

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