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I seem to have an issue with my lower back. Whenever I am doing a workout for the lower ab region, even though I tighten the ab muscles, my lower back hurts a lot that I have to use a warm water pack to relieve myself from this pain.

Exercises such as leg raises increase the pain even more. This pain is also present when I do excess workout involving my legs. Whenever I do not workout I don't have any pain at all. But not working out in itself is not the solution. Could someone suggest what could I do to get relief from this.

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    You may want to include in your question what exercises you are doing for the lower abs and a link to a picture of the type of leg raises you are doing as they may not be a good exercise choice. There are exercises for your abs here that should not bother your back and here. – BackInShapeBuddy Jun 23 '15 at 12:08
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    You may also want to see a physical therapist to get a good evaluation to find out why you are having pain and get specific exercises to address possible muscle imbalances. . – BackInShapeBuddy Jun 23 '15 at 12:09
  • Do you have the same problem while training lower back? or do you train lower back in your workout? – CanESER Jun 23 '15 at 12:16
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The best I can do is provide some general advice, since I'm missing detail and I'm not a physical therapist. If you have pain working your abdominals, it is typically unusual to have pain in your lower back.

You'll want to make sure of the following things:

  • Correct technique: a common problem is hyper-extending the lower back, which increases stress in the lumbar spine. Make sure your hips are in a neutral position, or even tuck your pelvis forward while performing abdominal work. If you can't tell that your abdominals are even engaging in the exercise, then you most likely are not doing it right.
  • Pinched nerves: your sciatic nerve extends from your lumbar spine into your leg. If your hip bones are pinching the nerve, that can cause pain. If you regularly keep anything in your back pocket, try moving it to the front pocket so that it doesn't shift your weight to one side. Beyond that, see a doctor to get it diagnosed. If possible use physical therapy to resolve broken movement patterns.
  • Nocebo effect: a nocebo is basically your body manufacturing pain because you expect it. It's similar to a placebo except the impact is negative instead of positive. Fixing these issues require retraining your body to not expect pain. Typically low intensity work with higher reps.

If I were a betting man, I'd assume you are performing exercise incorrectly. One problem I had with laying leg raises is precisely what I pointed out (hyper-extending the lumbar when my legs were in the bottom position). To fix that, I started performing the laying leg lifts on a bench with my legs hanging in free space. I also slowed down the exercise so I could control the lower and upper position better. It also had the benefit of keeping the abs under constant tension. With planks, I had to do them incline (elbows on a bench) for a while, focusing on tucking my pelvis forward by engaging the abs directly.

Troubleshooting:

  • Slow down!
  • Get someone who knows the exercise to coach you, or at the very least take video of you performing it.
  • Find your pain free range of motion.
  • Determine if that range of motion is less than expected or more than necessary.

Abs work best by bracing the body for work, so if you are moving too fast to keep them fully engaged then you are losing out on much of the benefit of those exercises.

If your pain free range of motion is not complete for the exercise, work on increasing it slowly over time.

Use the feedback from your friend/coach/video to help you improve your technique.

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You are likely hyper-extending your back. The best thing to do is to find a PT to work with you, but if you want to do it yourself, here is what I suggest:

  • Start with the 'dead bug' exercise. When you do this, make sure you keep your lower back absolutely flat against the floor or bench.
  • If you want to do leg lifts, you can only do the with your lower back pressed flat. If you can't do that, don't do leg lifts.
  • You may have anterior pelvic tilt, where your pelvis rotated forward and your stomach and butt stick out. This puts additional stress on your lower back. Fixing involves stretching the hip flexors and quads and working on strengthening the glutes.
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You have one or more of the following: Back soreness, lower back pain, terrible form, or back injury. I would suggest seeing a doctor, as what it sounds like to me is lower back pain if it has been persisting for more than a few weeks. In the meantime, stop these exercises if they are hurting. There are other alternatives, machines are probably the way to go until your doctor's okay. And if you feel pain anywhere during any exercise, stop. You will hurt yourself or hurt yourself more.

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