Leg presses are great multi-joint thigh and glute builders that not only support your back, but also take balance out of the equation and provide greater protection against lower-back rounding that’s more common in the squat. Idiot proof, right? Sadly, no.
Depending on your flexibility, if you lower the sled too far, your glutes can lift off the butt pad – and even worse, the lower end of your lower back can come off the back pad. That puts the disks in your lumbar spine under highly stressful forces (while rounded), especially if the negative rep isn’t well controlled.
First, make sure that you lower the sled under control at all times. Bring it down to a point just before your lower glutes lift off the seat. That’s sometimes hard to see on yourself, so get a trained spotter’s eye here. Keep the motion constricted to a safe range and do post-workout stretches to ensure that tight muscles don’t limit your range of motion. Just because you can take the sled further down doesn’t mean that you should!