Are Hanging Leg Raises Bad For Your Back? 12 Things To Consider

are hanging leg raises bad for your back

Are Hanging Leg Raises Bad For Your Back? 12 Things To Consider

Hanging leg raises are a popular exercise for targeting the abdominal muscles. However, some people may wonder, “Are hanging leg raises good for back?” or “Are leg raises bad for lower back?”. In this article, we will explore 12 factors that can make hanging leg raises potentially harmful to your back and offer tips for safer alternatives.

Are Hanging Leg Raises Bad For Your Back?

Hanging leg raises are a popular exercise that targets the abs and hip flexors. However, improper execution of this exercise can cause significant stress on your lower back, leading to discomfort or even pain. Poor form and overarching the back during hanging leg raises can put extra pressure on the lumbar spine, leading to injury. Furthermore, poor abdominal and core muscle strength can lead to an excessive reliance on the lower back muscles, subsequently amplifying the danger of injury. Overuse injuries are also a potential risk when performing hanging leg raises too frequently or with too much volume. Individuals with pre-existing back issues should be especially cautious when attempting hanging leg raises as they could exacerbate their condition. Also, leg raises can incur hip flexor dominance that creates an imbalance between the abdominal muscles and the hip flexors, thereby boosting your odds of dealing with lower back pain. It’s also important to progress properly and avoid jumping into advanced variations without adequate preparation. Lack of mobility, inadequate warm-up, imbalanced muscle development, and improper breathing are additional factors that can increase the risk of lower back pain when performing hanging leg raises. Ensuring proper execution and gradually building up the exercise over time can minimize the risk of injury and discomfort, allowing you to safely and effectively target your abs and hip flexors.

1. Poor Form

Poor form during hanging leg raises can place excessive stress on the lower back, leading to discomfort and potential injury. Ensuring proper execution of the exercise is essential to prevent lower back issues. This includes maintaining a neutral spine, engaging your core muscles, and controlling the movement of your legs throughout the exercise.

By focusing on correct form and technique, you can minimize the risk of lower back pain and make the most of the benefits offered by hanging leg raises. It is always a good idea to seek advice from an experienced fitness professional who can give you direction and watch your form while doing exercises securely and efficiently.

2. Overarching the Back

Overarching the back during hanging leg raises can place extra pressure on the lumbar spine, potentially leading to discomfort, pain, or injury. This issue is especially concerning if you have existing back problems or are prone to lower back pain. As you exercise, take care to maintain a balanced spine position and avoid excessive arching or curving of your lower back.

To prevent overarching, focus on engaging your core muscles throughout the movement, ensuring that you’re not relying solely on your hip flexors or lower back muscles to raise your legs. Also, consider performing the exercise with bent knees, as this can help reduce the likelihood of overarching and make it easier to engage your core effectively.

If you find it difficult to maintain a neutral spine during hanging leg raises, consider incorporating other core-strengthening exercises into your routine, such as planks and bird dogs. These exercises can help strengthen the muscles of your core, making it easier to keep a neutral spine while performing hanging leg raises.

3. Lack of Abdominal Activation

Lack of abdominal activation during hanging leg raises can lead to the lower back compensating for the weak core, potentially causing strain or pain. Engaging your core muscles properly is essential for avoiding this issue and ensuring the effectiveness of the exercise. To activate your core, focus on bracing your abdominal muscles and maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement.

This will help distribute the workload evenly across your core, reducing the risk of overloading your lower back. By prioritizing proper engagement of your core muscles during hanging leg raises, you can minimise the risk of lower back strain and maximize the benefits of the exercise.

4. Weak Core Muscles

Individuals with weak core muscles might find hanging leg raises too challenging, which can cause them to rely on their lower back muscles instead. This overreliance increases the risk of injury, as it places unnecessary stress on the lower back. To address this issue, it’s essential to gradually build core strength before attempting hanging leg raises.

Start with less demanding exercises that target the core, such as modified leg raises or knee raises, where you lift your knees towards your chest instead of raising your straight legs. As your core strength improves, you can progress to more advanced variations of hanging leg raises. By taking a gradual approach and prioritizing proper form, you can safely perform hanging leg raises without putting your lower back at risk.

5. Overuse Injuries

Performing hanging leg raises too frequently or with excessive volume can lead to overuse injuries in the lower back muscles and connective tissues. Overuse injuries occur when muscles and tissues are repeatedly stressed without adequate rest and recovery, resulting in inflammation, pain, and potential long-term damage.

To prevent overuse injuries, it’s important to incorporate a well-rounded workout routine that balances different exercises and targets various muscle groups. This ensures that specific muscles, like those in the lower back, aren’t being overworked. Additionally, scheduling rest days and listening to your body’s signals of fatigue can help prevent overexertion and injury.

When incorporating hanging leg raises into your routine, consider starting with a lower volume and gradually increasing the intensity as your strength and endurance improve. This gradual progression allows your body to adapt to the demands of the exercise, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

6. Existing Back Issues

For individuals with a history of back troubles or pre-existing conditions, hanging leg raises might stir up old issues or even create new ones. Before you embark on an intensive exercise program, it is recommendable to speak with your medical practitioner or physical therapist for further guidance. They can assess your unique situation, provide tailored recommendations, and even suggest safer alternatives to work those abs without causing a ruckus in your lower back.

After all, there’s no need to turn your workout into a high-stakes gamble with your back health. With expert advice and a dash of caution, you can still sculpt those killer abs while keeping your spine happy, healthy, and ready to support you in all your adventures.

Related: Why Do I Get Chest Pain When Doing Sit Ups?

7. Hip Flexor Dominance

Picture this…you’re hanging from the bar, ready to smash out some hanging leg raises, when suddenly, your hip flexors decide they want to steal the show. These sneaky muscles can sometimes take over during the exercise, leaving your abs in the dust and creating an imbalance between your abdominal muscles and hip flexors. This imbalance can spell trouble for your lower back, raising the risk of discomfort or pain.

To keep your hip flexors from hogging the spotlight, focus on engaging your core throughout the exercise and maintaining a controlled movement. You might also consider incorporating exercises that specifically target your abs, giving them the attention they deserve. And remember, a well-rounded workout routine that balances various muscle groups is key to keeping your body in harmony and your lower back pain-free. Dance on, hip flexors, but don’t forget to let your abs take centre stage.

8. Insufficient Progression

Embarking on advanced hanging leg raises without proper progression can be a recipe for lower back strain. Progression is key when it comes to mastering any new skill, so begin with simple exercises and gradually transition into more complex ones. This way you can avoid the mistakes of taking on too much too soon!

By building a solid foundation through simpler exercises, you give your body the time and opportunity to adapt and develop the necessary strength. As your core muscles become stronger and more resilient, you can gradually introduce more challenging variations, minimizing the risk of lower back strain.

Taking a measured and progressive approach to hanging leg raises not only protects your lower back but also helps you achieve stronger, more defined abs in a safe and effective manner. Remember, patience and persistence are key ingredients for long-term success in fitness.

9. Lack of Mobility

Imagine your body as an interconnected system, with each part working together to perform various tasks. When one area has limited mobility, such as the hips, other parts may compensate to maintain function. In hanging leg raises, limited hip mobility can lead to overuse of the lower back muscles, potentially resulting in pain or discomfort.

To keep your body in balance, it’s essential to address your hip mobility. Introduce stretching and mobility exercises into your routine to help improve hip flexibility and range of motion. As your hip mobility progresses, you’ll be able to execute hanging leg raises more effectively, reducing the strain on your lower back.

A well-rounded workout routine that considers mobility, strength, and flexibility is crucial for maintaining overall physical health and minimizing the risk of discomfort or injury. With dedication and consistency, you can enhance your hip mobility and enjoy a pain-free workout experience.

Are Hanging Leg Raises Bad For Your Back?

10. Inadequate Warm-Up

Imagine starting your car on a frosty winter morning and immediately revving the engine to maximum speed. Not ideal, right? Similarly, diving into hanging leg raises without warming up your body is like pushing a cold engine too hard, too fast. In both scenarios, the risk of damage increases, and for your body, that means a higher likelihood of injury, including to the lower back.

Warming up is like a prelude to your exercise symphony, setting the stage for a harmonious performance. Begin with dynamic stretches and light cardiovascular exercises to increase blood flow, loosen up your muscles, and prepare your body for the upcoming workout. It’s like gently coaxing your car’s engine to purr before hitting the open road.

Taking a few extra moments to properly prepare your body will not only prevent back injuries but also enhance your workout performance. Now, let’s stretch those muscles and get ready to rock those hanging leg raises.

11. Imbalanced Muscle Development

Imagine your body as an intricate machine, where each muscle contributes to a smooth and unified flow of action. Every component is essential for balance and optimal performance. Focusing too much on hanging leg raises without including exercises that target the posterior chain may lead to imbalanced muscle development and an increased risk of lower back pain.

Alongside hanging leg raises, include posterior chain exercises like deadlifts, glute bridges, and reverse hyperextensions. This balanced approach will help create a well-rounded physique and minimize the chances of lower back pain.

Remember, the key to a strong and healthy body is balance and diversity in your workouts. By integrating different exercises, you can work towards a pain-free and efficient fitness journey.

12. Improper Breathing

Breathing plays a significant role in exercise, and improper breathing can impact your performance during hanging leg raises. Holding your breath during any exercise, can cause your lower back muscles to become tight and lead to pain or discomfort.

Maintaining proper breathing technique is essential for a successful workout. When doing hanging leg raises, be sure to inhale as you lower your legs and exhale as you raise them. This conscious breathing pattern helps to stabilize your core and reduce strain on your lower back.

Focus on your breath and incorporate proper breathing techniques into your exercise routine, this can minimise the risk of any pain and improve your workouts.

Related: Are Hanging Leg Raises Enough For Abs?

Alternatives to Consider

It is essential to remember that everyone’s individual health requirements vary, so something which may work for one person could not provide similar results on somebody else.

If you find that hanging leg raises consistently cause discomfort or pain in your lower back, it may be worth exploring other exercises that can help you achieve your fitness goals without compromising your back health.

As you plan your daily exercise routine, be sure to include a variety of activities that focus on strengthening all areas of your core – not only abdominal muscles. A strong core is essential for overall stability and can help prevent injuries in other parts of your body, including your back.

Some additional core-strengthening exercises to consider include:

  • Russian twists
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Pilates exercises, such as the Hundred and the Scissor
  • Medicine ball slams

Lastly, don’t forget to prioritize flexibility and mobility work, such as stretching and foam rolling, in your fitness routine. Improving your overall flexibility and mobility can help reduce the risk of injury and make exercises like hanging leg raises more comfortable and effective.


Are hanging leg raises good for back?

Hanging leg raises can be good for the back if performed with proper form and technique. However, incorrect execution can put excessive stress on the lower back, leading to discomfort or pain.

Are leg raises bad for lower back?

Leg raises can be bad for the lower back if performed improperly or with too much volume. Overusing the lower back muscles during leg raises or lacking proper core engagement can lead to strain or pain.

What leg exercises to avoid with lower back pain?

Leg exercises that require excessive bending, twisting, or compression of the spine should be avoided with lower back pain. Examples include deep squats, deadlifts, and lunges.

What are the worst ab exercises for lower back pain?

Ab exercises that require excessive spinal flexion or rotation should be avoided with lower back pain. Examples include sit-ups, crunches, and Russian twists.

Are leg raises bad for sciatica?

Leg raises can aggravate sciatica if performed with poor form or if the sciatic nerve is already inflamed. It’s best to consult with a medical professional before attempting leg raises with sciatica.

What exercises should I avoid with lower back arthritis?

Exercises that put excessive stress on the lower back joints should be avoided with lower back arthritis. Examples include deep squats, heavy lifting, and high-impact activities such as running or jumping.

Final thoughts…

In summary, hanging leg raises can be an excellent exercise for targeting your abs when performed with proper form and progression. By listening to your body, seeking professional advice, and incorporating a balanced workout routine, you can enjoy the benefits of hanging leg raises while keeping your back safe and healthy.

Does your back hurt when doing hanging leg raises and have these tips helped? Let us know in the comments below.

If you enjoy sports and use CBD to help with your recovery in between gruelling workouts, then you are in the right place. Here at Sport CBDs, we train hard and recover the best way possible…

We have regular workouts (check out the YouTube channel), CBD news and CBD products to help you gain that edge! 

If you wanted to check out the reputable CBD we have on offer here at the site, then please head to the Sport CBDs Store (CLICK HERE). We also do fitness clothing and yoga accessories too. 

Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout


Founder – Sport CBDs

Featured Image AttributionImage by fxquadro on Freepik

Other Image AttributionImage by wirestock on Freepik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

Why Do I Feel Deadlifts In My Hamstrings? 12 Crucial Things To Consider

Why Do I Feel Deadlifts In My Hamstrings? 12 Crucial Things To Consider Are you supposed to feel deadlifts in […]
Why Do I Feel Deadlifts In My Hamstrings?

You May Like