Back Pain When Bending Forwards Fixed In 2 Steps

Watch The Video

Lower back pain when you bend forwards can be excruciating, stopping you in your tracks, but why is it happening and what can you do about it? Believe it or not there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the pain immediately. However, you should also take the time to cover long term strategies that will help eliminate back pain when you’re bending forwards for good. Fortunately we’ve got you covered on both accounts. 

What happens when you bend forwards

Your lower back has the role of providing the support for your body, the lumbar spine itself being the primary load bearing support for your whole upper body. The lumbar spine consists of 5 vertebrae that connect to the rib cage above and your tailbone and pelvis below. In between all these vertebral bones, you have spinal discs, little cushions that absorb shock and allow for movement.

When you bend forwards you will usually bend these joints forwards which shifts the weight onto the front of the bones and discs and stretches the back part of the discs too. Because your body weight is going forwards, you’ll put more pressure down through the front of the bones and discs, that is to say the pressure is no longer even through the bone-disc-bone joint at each of the vertebrae. 

Why it hurts your low back when you bend forward

As you bend forwards, the movements above should not cause pain under normal circumstances. But if one of the “cushions”, the discs, which are soft ligament structures has some damage or a tear, the forward bending we previously discussed, pressing down on the front of the bone-disc-bone joint will irritate the injured disc. 

Your lower back discs as jam doughnuts

A simple analogy commonly used to explain this is the jam doughnut, simply put the discs in your back are like little jam doughnuts, they have some fluid in the middle that keeps their height and are surrounded by the ligaments, in this case the dough. The dough keeps the jam in place. As you squeeze on the front of the doughnut, the jam forces its way backwards, breaking through the layers of the dough. If you squeeze hard enough on the front, you force the jam to find weaknesses in the dough wall. It then works its way out of the dough encasing. 

Too many of us have a sort of “repetitive strain” in our lower backs from hours sitting every day, or other minor injuries that weaken the lower back discs and supporting ligaments.

If there is enough of a weakness, minor damage, to these parts of our back, as the forces increase from bending forwards, they are just enough to create an irritation of these “low-grade” injuries, and so, the back pain surfaces. 

To put it simply, the lower back hurts when you bend forwards because you have an injury that you are making worse!

Immediately fix your back pain when you bend forwards

There are two very quick fixes you can immediately use to practically eliminate the lower back pain when you bend forwards. These small corrections work great if you get them right, and it’s all about learning them and using them every time you need to bend forwards.

Keep a neutral spine & engaged core when you’re bending forwards

The issue mentioned earlier is all about the fact that the bones in the lower back tip forwards and put uneven pressure through the discs. By keeping your core engaged and a neutral spine, you will do what’s called a “hip hinge” meaning that you keep the pressure even throughout the spine and the discs. 

How to do the hip hinge safely without bending your back

  • Start standing tall, engage your core muscles to stiffen your midsection
  • Imagine your spine is fused and cannot bend, or that a pole is attached to your back
  • Now allow your bum to move backwards, as you do this your torso will tilt
  • Slowly allow your torso to tilt forwards until you feel tension in the back of your thighs
  • That’s as low as you can go, then come back up.

Learning this hip hinging movement will allow you to start bending forwards without pain. You will immediately be able to bend forwards more without lower back pain, however, at some point you might still experience the pain come on again. This is because as you go lower, the compression through your spine will increase, even if you do hold your spine steady, this is where the second tip comes in. 

Bring your knees into the movement to protect the lower back more

As you’re doing your hip hinge, you can go lower in the bending position, if you involve your knees, by combining the hip hinge mentioned above, keeping a neutral spine, and then bending your knees you will be able to get lower down to the floor. Of course, all of us will have some limit before we can go no lower without rounding the back, but the combination of the hip hinge with a neutral spine and then involving the knee bend, will allow you to get more depth without the torso leaning forwards as much. 

Fix the back pain when bending forwards for good

Unfortunately, it is quite common that people will struggle with some of the modifications above, because of bad knees or hips. This is something we’ve seen over the years with many patients and members. The bad knees and hips are there because they’ve not been supported properly, and then the lack of strength and use in the legs eventually wears out the back too!  This can be reversed though, it takes some time but it works. 

Start by working on engaging your core muscles and protecting the lower back through proper rehab work. Some of the exercises that are great examples of these core exercises for lower back pain are in the recent video on 5 core exercises to fix your back pain. Start out with exercises on the floor like the modified deadbug and progress onto load bearing exercises like the hip hinge and squat, then adding weight will help you build strength back into these discs and your lower spine. 

If you want a little more guidance on this matter then check out the full FREE “Fixing Back Pain Masterclass” which will give you the exact step by step that you need to take to rebuild your lower back effectively for good, eliminating the weakness and injury that is there at the moment!

Related Articles


Fixing Low Back Pain


Just what you need if you’ve been struggling with any of the following:

Visit The Homepage