Seated leg presses and Roman chair back extensions can make lower back pain worse.

Low back pain is a common problem in adults. Lower back pain can have many possible causes. Common causes of lower back pain include injuries and medical conditions such as herniated discs. Treatment for lower back pain can take several different forms depending on the cause. Physical exercise is generally beneficial for maintaining good bone and muscle health. However, some exercises can make lower back pain worse and cause further injury. The best exercises to reduce lower back pain help strengthen the core and promote stability in the lumbar spine. Beneficial exercises are those that activate the core muscles, such as the plank. Certain exercises that do not activate the core muscles lead to aggravation of back pain.

In this article, we take a look at some of the worst exercise machines for lower back pain and suggest some alternatives.

Seated leg presses

The seated leg press is an exercise meant to strengthen the lower body. It involves sitting on a reclined chair with your knees bent and your feet against a platform. One repetition consists of moving the platform away from the body by extending the legs before bringing it back. This exercise primarily targets the quadriceps muscles in the leg. However, it can strain the lower back significantly.
Squats and leg presses can cause lower back injury if performed with poor form. The load or weight is not necessarily the cause of the injury, but the tilt of the pelvis at the end of the squat movement flexes the lumbar spine and stresses the discs and ligaments.

Another solution: Bodyweight squats

Bodyweight squats are an alternative to the seated leg press. A person can even do a squat while holding a light weight once they are comfortable with the squat motion. Finally, if the exercise does not aggravate lower back pain, it is possible to perform a front squat with dumbbells. Core activation is essential for all types of squats.
It is advisable to progress gradually over time, especially if one has a history of back pain.


Treadmills make running easy. People can walk or run on treadmills, which adjust the resistance and incline of the band. It’s a good way to improve your cardiovascular condition without going out. Treadmill walking is not necessarily a bad exercise for back pain. Many people with back pain may find that walking helps reduce pain. However, running when the body has not built up sufficient strength and endurance is likely to cause more back pain. It is more beneficial to maintain a low intensity on the treadmill.

Alternate Solution: Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical machines are a good alternative to treadmills. They allow you to do low impact cardiovascular exercises indoors. Ellipticals are equipped with moveable handlebars and footrests that reduce pressure on the joints. Although ellipticals are better for the joints than treadmills, excessive exercise on an elliptical can also prolong back pain. The elliptical trainer can help reduce back pain if the person uses it in moderation and on a regular basis.

Back Extension on the Roman Chair

Roman chair back extensions target the back muscles around the spine. However, repeated Roman chair extensions put excessive pressure on the lower back and can cause pain in other areas, such as the hips or neck.

Another solution: Bird-dog exercise

The bird dog exercise targets the core and back. It consists of getting on all fours and extending one arm forward while extending the leg on the opposite side. Maintaining this position without sagging mobilizes the core and reduces pressure on the lower back.

leg extension machine

The leg extension machine is an exercise that strengthens the quadriceps. Leg extension involves sitting in a chair and placing the shins behind a padded bar. One repetition consists of lifting the bar with the legs until they are straight before letting them return to the rest position. Leg extensions primarily target the quadriceps. However, they can put significant pressure on the knee joint and potentially make lower back pain worse.

Other treatments for lower back pain

Lower back pain can have many causes and treatment will depend on the cause.
However, it is important to keep moving as part of daily activities. Prolonged rest can make back pain worse, and being active without causing excessive pain will speed recovery. Here are some exercises that can help you:

– swimming
– walking
– yoga
– pilates

Some people will benefit from taking painkillers. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce lower back pain and inflammation. People can take these medications during episodes of pain to relieve symptoms.

Other treatments may help people with chronic back pain, including

– physiotherapy
– mindfulness and meditation
– avoid activities that aggravate back pain

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the exercises to avoid in case of low back pain?

Avoid exercises that isolate the lower back and subject it to undue stress. These can be, for example, seated leg presses or leg extensions.

What is the best exercise machine for lower back pain?

It is important to keep moving and avoid long periods of inactivity to promote recovery. Elliptical trainers are an example of a device that allows you to work several parts of the body without straining the lower back.

Which machines to avoid at the gym?

Avoid machines that isolate lower back muscles. These exercises put significant pressure on the lower back. Seated leg presses and treadmills are examples of machines to avoid.

Can ellipticals cause lower back pain?

Ellipticals use moveable pedals and handlebars to simulate a running motion and exercise the body. They do not isolate the lower back muscles and are safe to use for lower back pain.


Lower back pain is common and can have many causes. It is important to move the body and avoid long periods of inactivity to recover from low back pain. However, exercises that put excessive pressure on the back, such as treadmills, make the problem worse.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.