I was trying to do the exercise "Leg raising" :enter image description here

The problem is that : First it feels very difficult while raising my legs with a sharp lower back pain. Inaddition, during moving my legs up and down , it is very difficult for me to keep my back steady on the ground. For these two reasons, I used to put my hands under my butt, the exercise becomes easier.

Is it normal to feel such lower back pain ?

What about my unsteady back?

Does Anterior Pelvic tilt affect performing such exercise?

Is putting my hands under my butt corrupting the exercise?

  • 2
    from what I know your hands must be under your lower back not under your butt. Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 16:01
  • 4
    You may have a back problem and this exercise may be too advanced for your level of muscular control. This q/a fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/3354/… has some exercises that you may be able to do to target better muscular control without bothering your back. Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 4:57

4 Answers 4


If you feel sharp pain in the lower back, then you need to adjust the exercise.

The reason why lying leg raises are often painful, is that the lower back gets pinched and compressed as the weight of the legs tilts the hip and pulls the lower back upwards. The main leg lifting muscle is the psoas major, which connects your thigh bone directly to your spine. Resisting the anterior pelvic tilt in the lying leg raise is very difficult, as the forces on the hip and spine are very strong because of the leverage of the legs.

The only way to fight those forces is bracing the abdominal muscles, those, that in a neutral position would bend the spine forward (in the opposite direction). However, most people do not have the abdominal strength to counterbalance the weight of the legs when they are lowered, a very disadvantaged position because of the leverage of the legs on the psoas (and thus, the spine).

This is the reason why putting your hand under the back works, because it supports the back and decreases leverage. However, this is not the way I recommend approaching this exercise. It is better to gradually approach it by doing "one-leg raises" (with the other leg bent and supporting), making sure your abdominals are braced and the lower back is flat on the floor throughout. When you can do as many of these as you want with control, tension in the abdomen, and pain free, then progress to two leg raises, but lower them only to 60 degrees (lower back always flat on the floor), then 45 degrees, and so on. Only progress if you are completely pain free and easily in control of your legs and spine.

Hope it helps.


Well I see nobody wants to answer this so I will give it a try:

1.No.It is not normal to feel back pain no matter what exercise you do.(And I experienced people saying they had the same pain you had during the same exercise but after placing their hands right they had no problems at all)

2.Your back is unsteady because I presume you are holding your hands under your butt not under your back.Try putting your hands under your sacrum bone.

3.Why do you think it would?

4.Look at (2).

  • Thank you for your try ! it is helpfull. Infact, it is my fault that I bad express my situation. Yes really puting my hands under my sacrum bone ( and not my butt) seems comfortable.
    – Nizar
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 7:47

Common Dangerous Core Exercises

Every situp causes 730 pounds (3300 N) of spinal compression forces.

Research confirms no single core exercise challenges all of the abdominal musculature while not harming the back. Multiple exercises are required to strengthen the core and related muscles.

Unfortunately there are many inappropriate exercises unsafe for most people.

These exercises does not help relieve back pain, but instead increases low-back damage because of high compressive forces placed on the lower spine:

Leg raises: Lying flat on the floor, raising your while straight. These cause even higher spine compression than sit-ups.

Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner's Manual


One technique I use with clients who have lower back pain when performing leg lifts is to practice "straight leg drops". Let me describe. I bring my legs off the floor and up via bent knees. This is an "articulation" of the legs, as opposed to a straight leg raise. I raise each of the legs individually. (It looks like you are riding a bicyle up into the air.) Then, with my legs straight up, I flex my feet, and lower the legs down together, with straight knees. The take away, is that going down (cooperating with gravity) is much easier on your back than coming up. I have done this with literally hundreds of clients, and the great majority of people can do this without pain.

However, I occasionally encounter someone who cannot do even this modification of the exercise without pain. So I am thankful to @BKE who points out that a person can modify the exercise still further by bending one knee, putting one foot flat on the floor and doing the straight leg drop with only one leg.

I have a follow up question. I'm certain that my client who could not do "straight leg drops", as described above, has some kind of tissue damage. It isn't just a lack of abdominal strength. Anybody has ideas? Thanks.

  • You should post your follow up question as a separate question and link back to this one for context.
    – gwaigh
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 21:50

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