Protecting your back may not be a priority when you start your workout routine. However, it is imperative to remember that while strengthening one muscle group, you could be damaging another. In many cases, it is your back.

Tweaking your routine can help ensure that you’re protecting your back from injury. Here are 6 tips to protect your back while you workout:

1. Warm-Up
Your muscles will be stiff and more susceptible to injury without a warm-up. Before you start your workout spend at least 5 minutes doing mild exercises like side bends and trunk rotations. These moves get you ready to go!

2. Stretching
That seated floor stretch you’ve been doing since grade school could be causing you to low back pain. Reaching for your toes this way could compress the lumbar spine. Instead, try stretching your hamstring by lying on your back. Raising one leg toward the ceiling, knee slightly bent, with your other leg straight on the floor. Place your hand behind your knee (slightly above or below the actual knee joint) and gradually pull your leg toward you for 20 seconds, then switch sides.

3. Planks
Support your abs as though you are about to take a punch to the stomach. Contracting your core as though you are filling that space rather than sucking it in will better support your spine and back muscles.

4. Sit-Ups
Crunches and sit-ups are effective exercises, but they put a substantial pressure on the low back. Try doing them on a stability ball. This supports your back and allows for a fuller range of motion. This method also incorporates the hips and gluteus; which helps reduce tension on the spine.

5. Running
Running is an excellent workout, but poor form can lead to a sore back and neck. Whether you are running indoors or out, keep an upright posture with a slight forward lean and always maintain a straight-ahead gaze.

6. Cycling
Cycling is a wonderful low-impact cardio exercise, however many cyclists experience back pain. When you ride squeeze your glutes, drop your shoulders away from your ears, and bend your elbows slightly to help absorb shock. Make sure you not only push but also pull the pedals as you cycle.