Exercises and Techniques to Fix Extension Intolerant Lower Back Pain

If you’ve ever experienced back pain that feels worse while arching and backward bending, you may suffer from extension-intolerant back pain.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss extension intolerant back pain, its causes, who it affects, and how to fix it with exercises and lifestyle changes. Whether you’re an athlete or spend long hours sitting at a desk, this post is for you to alleviate you back pain and improve your overall quality of life.

What is an extension-intolerant back?

Extension-intolerant back pain is a type of back pain that is triggered by activities or positions that involve backward bending or extension of the spine.

People with this type of pain often experience discomfort when standing for long periods, arching their back, or performing exercises such as backbends. Various factors, including poor posture, weak core muscles, and previous spinal injuries, can trigger or cause this back pain.

Understanding the causes of extension-intolerant back pain is critical to finding effective ways to alleviate it.

How to identify Extension intolerant back pain?

1.Extension and Flexion test

This test helps you reveal what triggers your pain, by reproducing the conditions that lead to your discomfort, like lifting a load (compression) with an arched (extended back). This would include lifting (deadlifting) too.

This way you can better understand how your spine is affected and pinpoint the source of your pain. After this test confirmed what type of backpain you are dealing with you can then use this blog to develop an effective treatment plan to get rid of your extension intolerant back pain.

Grip under the chair with both hands and pull up to create resistance. When testing for extension intolerance, keep your back in an overextended(arched) position (3rd picture), and see if combining with compression (load/resistance) -, brings out your pain.

If it does you tested positive for extension intolerant back pain.

2.Keep track on your movement and what triggers it!

For example:

  • Your back feels relieved while bending (flexing the spine).
  • Your pain is brought out with  overextended spinal position (hyperextension).
  • Your sport involves repetitive back extension movement
  • Laying on your stomach is painful
  • Exercises like hyperextension, superman, deadlift, squats hurt you if anterior pelvic tilt occurs and you are not or can’t maintain neutral, braced spinal position.

3. Postural Assessment

Another way to identify this problem is to look at your posture. If you have anterior pelvic tilt (the picture below), is more likely that your pain is caused by this postural problem.

But what problems can an anterior pelvic tilt cause?

  1. Weak intrinsic core stabilizers – made of 4 muscles :  the diaphragmtransversus abdominismultifidus, pelvic floor and internal oblique. These muscles support and stabilize the spine during movement and create intra-abdominal pressure.
  2. Tight Erector Spinae
  3. Tight Hip Flexors – iliacus, psoas, pectineus, rectus femoris, and sartorius.
  4. Weak glutes
  5. Weak NOT tight Hamstrings
  6. Tight latissimus dorsi

Who can have extension intolerant lower back pain?

Extension intolerant back pain is a common issue that affects various individuals, including moms (holding and picking up the children), lifters, athletes, and office professionals who sit with an overextended back.

This posture can lead to an excessive arch in the lumbar spine and cause discomfort and pain.

The exercises to fix your back pain!

  • Foam Roll, stretch and reactivate the muscles that are underactive
  • Relearn correct movement pattern and exercise technique
  • Maintain neutral spinal position throughout the day, avoid sitting at the edge of the chair.
  • Brace the core and squeeze the glutes while completing any exercises
  • Sleeping on your side might feel good. If you sleep on your back place a towel under the knee to avoid overextension. 
  • If you sleep on your tummy place a pillow under the tummy to avoid overextension.
  • Complete exercises like hamstring curls, uneven carries, glute activation exercises (single leg bridge with 10sec hold), bird dogs with proper bracing sequence, etc… 


Alternatively you can try my 3 Weeks Wellness Success program, that has all the solutions and guidance to treat your pain!

Happy Recovery!


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