How to Fix Back Pain from Lifting

RealNinja

RealNinja

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When I was brand new to working out, I quickly gave myself back pain from doing squats with shitty form. This pain lasted quite a while and took some work to make it go away. The obvious solution is to use proper form on movements that load your lower back, but it takes time to adapt to doing those movements properly. Squats are pretty complex and can be hard to learn as a beginner because you have to do a lot of things at once. Most of my friends have also experienced back pain at some point, seems to be common as you’re learning. So if you’ve given yourself back pain from things like squats then here are some tips to help you out.

  1. Get stronger abs and learn how to brace your core. If you’re just starting out, you may have a weak core which stops you from being able to brace properly. Bracing is creating pressure within your abdomen and flexing your abdominal muscles. This basically keeps your spine locked into alignment so it doesn’t bend or move during your lifts. While you work on perfecting your form, throw in a lot of hanging leg raises, cable crunches, machine crunches, etcetera. Here’s something squatuniversity posted about how to brace properly: lay down and place a 10lb dumbbell on your stomach. Relax your abs and let it sink down, then flex your abs and puff out your belly so the dumbbell rises up. This is what you do with your core when you drop down during a squat, you have to maintain this brace throughout the lift to keep your back neutral.

  1. Strengthen your lower back through other means. You have muscles called spinal erectors that run lengthwise up your spine. These also give your spine support and help you maintain proper back position when you’re lifting. If your back is hurting from squats or deadlifts, stop doing them for a while. Do exercises like hyperextensions, reverse hyperextensions, bent over barbell rows, and RDLs with a light to moderate weight. These indirectly tax your lower back without compressing and loading your spine with hundreds of pounds like squats and deadlifts do.

  1. Determine if your lower back is compensating for another body part. You may have weak glutes and hamstrings, or inflexible hamstrings and ankles. Looking at yourself sideways in a mirror, drop into a deep flat footed squat (third world squat) and go down as low as possible while keeping your spine straight. If the muscles on top of your shins/front of your ankle start tightening up and hurting, you need to work on ankle mobility to allow your knees to fold forward enough for your back to remain neutral at the bottom of a squat. If you feel it in your hamstrings, you need to work on loosening those up too. Look up stretches for your hamstrings, glutes and ankles, make a routine and do it every morning. Hip flexors can also be an issue.

  1. Help your back recover. Look up the McGill big 3 stretches, do them after every workout, especially leg day. I have also found that traction is really helpful- like laying on an inversion table, hanging in a back bubble, or dead hanging from a pull up bar with wrist straps. This basically pulls apart your spine and decompresses it to relieve some pressure off the discs. If your back pain is really bad, to the point it’s interfering with your daily routine, you need to go see a physical therapist. But for anyone with back pain, you should be regularly taking walks. My back pain always got worse from laying in bed or sitting down for a long time. Take a walk to get blood flowing through everything.
 
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