Why Do Hanging Leg Raises Hurt My Back?

hanging leg raise
September 11, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “why do hanging leg raises hurt my back?”. The hanging leg raise is a great exercise for the core, but there are many people who experience this problem.

This article will serve to help people who suffer from this issue. I will examine the main causes underlying back pain on hanging leg raises. I will also give recommendations of what to do to strengthen weak links that can cause lower back pain. 

Why Do Hanging Leg Raises Hurt My Back?

One of the most common reasons why hanging leg raises could be hurting your back is related to anterior pelvic tilt. A lot of people who suffer lower back pain on hanging leg raises get into anterior pelvic tilt.

Anterior pelvic tilt is often caused by short and tight hip flexors. Very often people with this posture also have weaknesses in their posterior chain. This is what results in lower back pain on many exercises.

It is important to get into posterior pelvic tilt when performing hanging leg raises and keep your abs turned on when you lower your legs as well. This will help to avoid lower back pain. 

If You Have Pain Stop The Movement

It must be stated in advance, if you currently have back pain from hanging leg raises, stop! Listening to your body when you are training is crucial. You should not be experiencing back pain on this exercise if you are doing it properly.

You need to stop the movement and start doing leg raises from the basics. Teach yourself how to get into posterior pelvic tilt when doing leg raises on the floor. I will explain how you can get used to this position now. 

How To Teach Posterior Pelvic Tilt

A great way to learn posterior pelvic tilt to start doing hanging leg raises properly is the hollow body hold. The video below explains well how to do the hollow body hold.

The best way to learn this is to start by lying down on the floor. You must ensure that your lower back is in contact with the floor. If you are used to being in anterior pelvic tilt then this will be a challenge at first.

You have to unlearn this position first. To start you should bend your knees and bring your legs up off the floor. Tuck your chin and then extend your arms and bring them down. Keep your legs straight and lift them off the floor.

You now need to get used to keeping your lower back in contact with the floor while your legs are off the floor. Once you have got used to this then you can bring your legs down. Now you should be able to achieve posterior pelvic tilt. 

The final step is to bring your arms up while still keeping your lower back on the floor. Once you have performed the hollow body hold successfully a number of times, you are ready to start moving into leg raises.

You can start by doing leg raises on the floor. The next phase would be bent knee hanging leg raises, and the final phase would be straight leg hanging leg raises. 

Keep Your Abs Turned On 

Another common mistake that many people make when doing hanging leg raises, is they relax too much when lowering their legs down. 

It is very important to keep your abs turned on throughout the range of motion – both the eccentric phase and the concentric phase. We are specifically targeting the core muscles with this exercise and the aim is to strengthen them.

If sloppy form is used when lowering your legs down and you lose tension in your abs, this can lead to lower back pain in some cases. 

>> Will Beltless Squats Make Your Abs Stronger?

Strengthen The Posterior Chain

As mentioned earlier, a weak posterior chain is a common cause of lower back pain. If you have weak glutes and hamstrings, this can make you a lot more susceptible to experiencing lower back pain.

This dysfunction in the posterior chain can reveal itself on many exercises. The hanging leg raise is no exception. Therefore, it is critical that the glutes and hamstrings are strengthened.

If you perform deadlifts, RDLs, hyperextensions and reverse hypers regularly you will definitely strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. To do further work for the hamstrings you could do nordic curls or seated/lying hamstring curls.

You don’t have to perform all these exercises. However I would recommend at least incorporating two out of the four that I have mentioned. I also believe that hamstring curls provide good utility. Even powerlifters like Pete Rubish have vouched for this exercise in beefing up the hamstrings.
leg curl

Final Thoughts

Why do hanging leg raises hurt my back? The primary reason has to do with not resisting anterior pelvic tilt well enough. For this you need to learn how to get into posterior pelvic tilt.

This will help you to be able to perform hanging leg raises without experiencing back pain. You also must ensure to keep your abs turned on throughout the entire range of motion.

In addition, a weak posterior chain is often a big culprit for lower back pain. You have to perform some sort of deadlift variation or back extension in your training. Reverse hypers are also a fantastic exercise for strengthening the posterior chain.

Using reverse hypers and hyperextensions regularly is also a fantastic way of keeping your lower back healthy long term! 

If you have any questions about this topic please leave them in the comments below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!


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