Weightlifting Back Pain
Joe Fleming identifies the ten mistakes that cause back pain while weightlifting and how to correct them.
Lots of people assume that, when you are hitting the gym hard and lifting weights, pain is an unavoidable part of the equation. While a bit of soreness is common and not particularly problematic, actual pain is cause for concern. This is especially true of back pain.
If you are experiencing back pain during or after lifting weights, it is crucial that you figure out the root cause of that pain. Ignoring it and hoping it goes away will not do you any favours now or later on.
In many cases, weightlifting-related back pain is brought on by poor form or other mistakes. The following are ten common mistakes that might be the reason for your back pain.
Not Working Your Core
Research shows that weak core muscles -- the muscles that make up the torso and extend from the sternum to the glutes -- can make back pain worse. A weak core is especially problematic when you are lifting weights.
If you are not engaging those muscles and supporting your spine properly while doing exercises like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses, you are setting yourself up for a lot of back pain.
Core-strengthening exercises like planks, bird dogs, and hanging leg raises are highly effective. But, it is not enough just to do these exercises. It is also important to time them appropriately.
Not Warming Up Before Workouts
Another mistake many people make when it comes to lifting weights is neglecting their warm-up. A thorough warm-up helps increase your body temperature and prime your muscles for the movements you will perform during your workout.
Make sure the stretches you do during your warm-up are dynamic, meaning you are continuously moving your limbs through a full range of motion.
Good dynamic stretches to include are bodyweight squats, side-to-side walks with a resistance loop, and cat-cow stretches.
Static stretching (holding one stretch for an extended period of time) is best reserved for after your workout when you are ready to cool down.
Not Bracing the Shoulders
If your shoulders are loose and unstable while lifting heavy weights and doing exercises like bench presses, your upper back is likely to round, and you are more likely to experience pain in your upper back.
Excessive rounding and pressure on your upper back can, in some cases, lead to bulging or herniated discs.
Think about pulling your shoulders back and pushing your shoulder blades down before doing heavy lifts. This allows you to engage your lats (the muscles on the sides of torso under the armpits) and support the shoulders and muscles of the upper back.
Hyperextending Your Back
When you do exercises like squats and deadlifts, it is important to make sure your lower back is not hyperextended (meaning you have a larger-than-usual arch).
When you lift weights with a hyperextended lower back, you put too much stress on that portion of your spine. This, in turn, can lead to lower back stiffness and pain. You can even cause stress fractures and arthritic changes.
To avoid hyperextending your back while performing these exercises, be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. This will ensure your pelvis stays neutral.
Transitioning Inappropriately Between Exercises
It is important to pay attention to the way you move while performing various exercises. But, it is also important to pay attention to how you move in between exercises. You can just as easily hurt your back while racking or re-racking your weights as you can while lifting them.
Make sure you are bracing your core and practicing good form when you lift plates and put them on the bar or take them off. You especially need to make this a priority when you are finished doing heavy lifts and are feeling fatigued from your workouts.
Forgetting to Move in Between Workouts
If the only time you move is in the gym, you could be setting yourself up for back pain during and outside of your workouts.
Regular activity is essential for keeping the spine healthy and mobile. If you are sedentary all day and only move for an hour at the gym, you are more likely to struggle with stiffness, pain, and potential injuries.
Lifting with Bad Posture
Most people walk around all day with bad posture. Between staring down at their phones and slouching over their computers, rounded shoulders and forward heads are becoming increasingly common.
If you have bad posture all day long, you are likely to carry that bad posture into the gym during your workouts. Bad posture in the gym is not just unsightly; it can also put a lot of strain on the muscles and soft tissues in your back.
Wearing posture correctors or comfortable braces for upper back pain can help you figure out how it feels to sit or stand up straight. With a little practice, you will be able to adjust your posture and get through your workouts with less pain and discomfort.
Overdoing the Same Exercises
If you do the same exercises over and over again and do not give yourself adequate rest in between, you could end up dealing with repetitive strain injuries.
These kinds of injuries come on gradually but can eventually lead to chronic pain and stiffness. Stick to a balanced exercise routine that switches up your movements regularly.
Progressing too Quickly
While it is important to continue challenging yourself if you want to see progress during your workouts, it is also important to avoid progressing too quickly.
Lifting heavier weights than you can handle or trying to knock out too many reps is not good for your back (or any other part of your body) and could end up sidelining you from your workouts.
Neglecting Post-Workout Stretching
Finally, static stretching after a workout can help reduce muscle soreness and tension and prevent aches and pains that might show up the next day.
If you have an existing injury, you are also less likely to aggravate it by doing static stretches after your workout since your muscles will already be warm.
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About the Author
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. With a goal to inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.
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