As discussed in another question, some people have lower back pain during straight leg raises. Why? Many places on the internet will tell you that these people have weak abdominal muscles, and they can't control the tilt of their pelvis. That is probably true. However, there must be more. I would guess that there is a disk bulge which, together with weak abdominals, is creating the pain. On the other hand, the pain happens when the lumbar spine is extended, and that is not when a posterior disk bulge would be pushing into the spinal cord. Can anyone help me figure this out?

2 Answers 2


It's helpful to take a look at the anatomy of your psoas major muscle, which will be heavily recruited during straight leg raises. You can see that it attaches to the lumbar vertebrae, the result being a compression of your lumbar spine when it is under tension. So even if you can maintain a neutral spine position the compression could still result in pain if you have a bulging disc.

You allude to the other possible issue of people being unable to control their pelvic tilt when performing this exercise, this results in the lumbar spine going into extreme extension and potentially irritating the facet joints.


Why don't you try it yourself and be aware of your lower back and abdominal muscles while doing the mentioned exercise. This way you will get a strategy instead of only an answer.

  • I'm not sure I understand your point. However, let me clarify. I can do straight leg raises of whatever variety, and personally, I don't feel pain. However, I occasionally get a customer who feels terrible pain during a straight leg raise. Something is going on in their body that I can't relate to my own personal experience. I'm certain that these people have some kind of tissue damage. My question is, what tissue is it? Is it a disk bulge?
    – Chris
    Feb 11, 2019 at 21:39
  • I'm out of shape currently and I did your mentioned exercise with some pain in the lower back. (2 / 10 points, where 10 is strong pain). It comes from too short lower back muscles which begin to send pain signals during exercise which stretches them. Feb 11, 2019 at 21:43
  • I'm sorry Benjamin, but I think your theory of "too short lower back muscles" cannot be supported with any evidence. In my opinion, "Short" muscles is a myth. Here is another question that asks about "short" muscles: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/33135/…
    – Chris
    Feb 11, 2019 at 22:06
  • Whatever muscle you stretch too far will create pain in the muscle. What do you think where the pain comes from, out of nothingness? What do you think the pain comes from? Feb 11, 2019 at 22:17
  • What do I think lower back pain comes from? One possible source is Facet Joint Syndrome. Here is a paper on the topic. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6206372 . Check out the abstract. It states "Lumbar facet joints (FJ) constitute a common source of pain, accounting for 15–45% of lower back pain (LBP)."
    – Chris
    Feb 11, 2019 at 22:21

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