7 Reasons for Lower Back Pain When Doing Burpees

Do you get lower back pain when doing burpees?

This is a common occurrence if your form isn’t quite right.

There are various reasons why you may experience lower back pain, and many of these are also due to fatigue setting in.

However, if you concentrate on fixing the following issues, then you’re burpees should be pain-free.

Lower Back Pain When Doing Burpees

The reason for lower back pain when doing burpees is typically down to poor form. This could range from not keeping the core tight, allowing the hips to droop, or dropping onto your hands rather than squatting down. If you include a jump with your burpees you should also ensure that you land softly onto the balls of the feet.

1. A Lack of Core Stability

The burpee is typically viewed as a strength and conditioning exercise.

The movement incorporates a number of separate bodyweight exercises.

These may include a squat, a push up, a plank, and a jump.

So, in effect you have 4 separate movements that are great strength builders.

But when they are performed seamlessly, almost as one, your heart rate generally goes through the roof.

However, I’ve always felt that the burpee is a great core exercise too.

In fact, it may even be one of the best exercises to burn belly fat.

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With that being said, I always like to keep my core tight and stabilized whenever I perform burpees.

I usually find that really helps me to concentrate on working the core muscles hard.

Plus, after a good burpee workout, I have that “nice sore feeling” in the abs.

This wasn’t always the case for me though.

I too have suffered with lower back pain when doing burpees.

And I found that one of the main reasons was that I had no real control over my core.

Keeping the core tight and stable will help to protect the lower back, and you get the added benefit of a great ab workout too.

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2. Trying to do Burpees Too Fast

There is a tendency to try to do burpees too fast.

From my own experience, this was generally because I wanted to get the set over as quickly as possible.

However, this usually leads to terrible form.

I’m going to cover each aspect of “bad form” in the rest of this article, and it is these factors that cause lower back pain.

I’m now able to perfect form burpees for several minutes continuously, which involves fairly high rep sets.

But, this took me a long time to build up to.

I found that the burpee is tough enough, irrespective of how fast you’re doing them.

And to this day I still average around 3 seconds a burpee, so 20 burpees per minute.

All of my burpees always include a push up and a jump.

I’m well aware that I could probably go much faster, but I know that my form will suffer.

So, I keep to this smooth tempo.

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I still get a great workout, and I don’t have to worry about the dreaded lower back pain.

My suggestion would be to slow your burpees and concentrate on strict form throughout.

3. Sagging Midsection/Hips Drooping

People Doing Crossfit Burpees in a Gym

I guess I could have included this with keeping your core stable, as it is much the same issue.

It does very much depend on which type of burpee you’re performing, but most people allow their hips to droop towards the floor.

When it comes to the Crossfit burpee, the hips usually come into contact with the floor and there is no push up performed.

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However, the Crossfit burpee should still be performed under full control.

When performing any type of burpee it is important to have control over your midsection and hips.

You’ll generally find that as fatigue sets in, form tends to go out the window, and the hips start to sag.

This may be a good time to call an end to the set, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for a potential injury.

4. Landing Incorrectly From Jump

If you incorporate a jump in your burpees then this could also be a cause for lower back pain.

Due to my history with lower back injuries, plyometrics and jumping is something that I avoided for a long time.

However, I’m glad to say that everything seems to be sorted with my lower back nowadays (touch wood!) and so I always have a jump at the end of my burpees.

Nevertheless, it’s important to both execute and land correctly when you do jump.

I’ve had to learn how to land on the balls of my feet, as opposed to on my heels.

Even if your feet only just leave the ground by an inch or two it’s important to land on the balls of your feet.

By landing on your heels there is a higher likelihood of jarring the lower back, which can of course lead to injury.

There’s a greater chance of this happening as fatigue sets in again.

So, if you find that you seem to be tiring and landing on your heels, then it’s time to call an end to the set, and take a short rest.

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5. Dropping Onto Hands Rather Than Squatting

A Person Doing Burpees

I’ve alluded to the fact that the burpee is basically made up of a series of other bodyweight exercises.

And the squat is a major part of the overall movement.

This is also another reason that I like to perform burpees at a slightly slower pace, as it ensures that I perform a proper squat.

Once again, fatigue plays a part here, and as you become tired you may find that you’re dropping onto your hands rather than actually performing a squat.

This typically leads to the back rounding, rather than maintaining a more upright and neutral back position.

And unfortunately it is this incorrect use of form that leads to lower back pain.

Check out this video, which explains squatting and back position perfectly.

6. Compensating For Tight Hip Flexors

Yet another factor that I know only too well, tight hip flexors.

I sound like a walking injury, don’t I?

LOL.

However, I know that my history of lower back injuries comes from weak glutes and hamstrings, plus extremely tight hip flexors.

I guess this came about because my lower body workouts were always far more quad-focused.

But, this is something that I have corrected now.

That being said, having tight hip flexors can lead to poor form when performing burpees.

This typically manifests itself in the back rounding, the hips sagging, and the core not being controlled.

Unfortunately, by trying to protect the hip flexors you’ll end up putting a huge amount of stress onto the lower back.

So, it’s important to work on loosening your hips and hip flexors as well.

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7. Lack of Upper Body Strength/Uneven Shoulder Position

I’ve mentioned that the burpee is a strength exercise, and this is even more true if you perform a push up as well.

However, simply having to support your weight in the plank position requires a certain amount of upper body strength.

I’ve previously mentioned that if you struggle with burpees that it’s a good idea to split the exercise up.

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This way you can work on each individual movement separately, and get stronger and more proficient at them.

So, I see nothing wrong with doing a workout that consists of squats, push ups, planks, and jumps.

This way you’re working each specific element of the burpee.

A lack of upper body strength can actually cause the hips to droop and the back to round.

Plus, due to the difficulty of propping up the body on your hands there is a tendency for uneven shoulder and hand position.

Always try to ensure that your hands are in line with each other.

You may find that as you fatigue one hand is further forward than the other.

This will cause an uneven shoulder position, which simply puts a lot more stress on the lower back.

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Final Thoughts

So, hopefully you now understand why you experience lower back pain when doing burpees.

As you can see, the main reasons are due to poor form, which often comes about due to fatigue.

I’m a stickler for perfect form, irrespective of the exercise.

So, if you do find that your form starts to slide when doing burpees, it’s possibly time to end the set and take a little rest.

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