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How To Relieve Back Pain From Lifting

How Is Back Pain Diagnosed

The Unexpected Solution to Pain and Injuries

Your health professional will first assess your back pain. They may ask questions including:

  • When did your back pain begin?
  • What activities were you doing differently to normal before your back pain started?
  • How would you describe the pain? Is there tingling or numbness?
  • What makes the pain better or worse?

If your pain doesnt settle after a few weeks or starts getting worse, ask your doctor or other health care professional about other management options. You may be referred for tests if there is reason to suspect a more serious cause for your back pain.

In most situations, imaging such as X-ray, CT or MRI scans are not helpful unless there is an obvious injury or strain.

Unnecessary tests can be expensive, and many investigations will show changes in your spine that reflect the normal passage of time, rather than damage to your spine.

Take Guidance From A Trained Therapist Or Instructor

Whether you have used weights before or not, the techniques for weight training to alleviate back pain can be different from regular weight or resistance exercises. A trained physical or occupational therapist can provide guidance on the correct technique, frequency, and type of training that is suitable for your condition.

Training under a therapist can significantly reduce the risk of further injury and damage to your spine. After an initial training period, you may continue to perform the exercises by yourself, as prescribed.

See Physical Therapy Benefits For Back Pain

How To Deadlift Without Hurting Your Lower Back

Many people assume that experiencing lower back pain after deadlifting is just the price you pay for doing this exercise. Thats dead wrong.

Maintaining good form throughout the deadlift motion is the best way to avoid lower back pain while exercising:

  • Dont look up. Keep your head in a neutral position, looking down at the floor with your chin tucked as you set up to begin a deadlift. The back of your head should be aligned with your flat, straight back and spine.
  • As you reach down for the barbell, make sure your knees are aligned with the middle of your feet, and your shoulders are over the bar.
  • Exhale fully before lifting to ensure that your ribcage drops and your abs and obliques are engaged for the lift.
  • The deadlift is predominantly a hip hinging movement. Shift your weight back slightly, then forward, as you lift the weights and stand. Learning a proper hip hinge will place less stress on your lower back and give your glutes, hamstrings, and calves the workout youre looking for.
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    Preventing Back Pain From Lifting Weights

    A weight lifting exercise routine works all of your muscle groups, including the back. While there is no guarantee that you wont experience back pain from lifting weights, there are ways to prepare your body for stress and reduce the likelihood of an injury that will negatively impact your spine. Some of the ways you can prevent back pain include:

    • Stretching and warming up before a session.
    • Avoid using your back to lift the weight.
    • Train different muscle groups each day to avoid over-exerting the same muscles.
    • Lift less weight but perform more repetitions.
    • Wear a weight-lifting belt to help support your spine and maintain correct posture as you lift.

    How Is Lumbar Strain Treated

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    Specific treatment for a lumbar strain will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:

    • Your age, overall health, and medical history
    • Extent of the injury
    • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, and therapies
    • Expectation for the course of the injury
    • Your opinion or preference
    • Ice packs and/or heat and compression applied to the back
    • Exercises
    • Stretching and strengthening exercises
    • Education regarding the use and wearing of appropriate protective equipment

    Medicines, such as anti-inflammatories and spinal injections, may also be used to relieve pain and inflammation.

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    What Can Cause Lower Back Pain

    Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:


    • Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
    • Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.


    • Sprains , strains , and spasms
    • Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.

    Degenerative problems

    • Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
    • Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
    • Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.

    Nerve and spinal cord problems

    Non-spine sources

    Complementary And Alternative Techniques Include:

    • Acupuncture is moderately effective for chronic low back pain. It involves inserting thin needles into precise points throughout the body and stimulating them , which may cause the body to release naturally occurring painkilling chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
    • Behavioral approaches include:
    • Biofeedback involves attaching electrodes to the skin and using an electromyography machine that allows people to become aware of and control their breathing, muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature people regulate their response to pain by using relaxation techniques
    • Cognitive therapy involves using relaxation and coping techniques to ease back pain
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation involves wearing a battery-powered device which places electrodes on the skin over the painful area that generate electrical impulses designed to block or modify the perception of pain
  • Physical therapy programs to strengthen core muscle groups that support the low back, improve mobility and flexibility, and promote proper positioning and posture are often used in combination with other interventions
  • Spinal injections include:Trigger point injections can relax knotted muscles that may contribute to back pain. An injection or series of injections of a local anesthetic and often a corticosteroid drug into the trigger point can lessen or relieve pain.

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    When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

    • Youre unable to stand or walk.
    • You have a temperature over 101.0°F
    • You have frequent, painful, or bloody urination.
    • You have severe abdominal pain.
    • You have a sharp, stabbing pain.
    • Your pain is constant.
    • You have pain or numbness in your leg.
    • You feel pain in a new area of your back.
    • You notice that the pain isnt decreasing after more than a week.

    Contact your healthcare provider immediately for the following:

    • Pain radiating down the leg
    • Pain that is accompanied by fever, weakness in the leg, or loss of control of the bladder or bowels

    Make Sure Your Pain Is Not Serious In Nature

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    If your back pain originates from an issue such as a previous spinal surgery, tumor, nerve root compression accompanied by neurological symptoms , spinal fracture, and/or spinal infections, weight training may not be suitable for you.3

    A trained medical professional can help provide an accurate diagnosis and determine if weight training is safe to perform with your back pain.

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    Lower Back Pain Causes

    In the gym, back pain is most often caused by poor posture or technique. When you flex your back muscles against resistance while weightlifting, youre putting your back in a compromised position.

    If your back is rounded during the exercise, it puts your hips at a higher angle, stressing your ligaments. Then, when you add weight, youve created the perfect recipe for muscle strain.

    Be particularly careful when doing the following exercises: clean-and-jerk, dead-lift, snatch and squats. These exercises can be stressful to your joints and soft-tissues, especially if youre over 50.

    Exercises That Twist Your Spine

    Yoga is often extremely helpful in building flexibility and strength, but certain movements like forward folds and spinal twists could aggravate your back injury. Twisting movements are typically aggravating to individuals with existing lower back problems, especially when performed with improper form. When performing these types of exercises, be careful, avoid movements that dont feel right and listen to your body.

    Your yoga instructor can provide modifications for certain poses if needed, so be sure to ask. Depending on your pain level, you might need to skip the yoga and try a different workout until your back injury heals.

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    Manage Or Reduce Stress

    Stress can trigger muscle tension and painful spasms, including in the back. If long-term stress or a traumatic event seems to have caused back pain, a person can try stress-relief techniques, such as:

    • Mindfulness meditation.One study showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction improved back pain. Mindfulness involves being aware of what the body is doing and using meditation techniques to assist with the pain.
    • Deep breathing. Taking deep breaths in and out for several minutes can calm the bodys stress response.
    • Progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing muscles in the body, focusing on one muscle group at a time. Lying on their back, a person can start with their feet and gradually move up to the shoulders.
    • Guided imagery. This involves focusing on specific mental images to bring about a feeling of relaxation. One study found guided imagery and music helps with work-related chronic stress.
    • Yoga. Yoga focuses on particular poses and breathing and can help with relaxation, especially when practiced regularly. One review found yoga to be an effective stress management tool.

    Many smartphone apps are available to guide a person through relaxation techniques and meditation.

    When & How To Seek Medical Care

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    If low back pain lasts for longer than one to two weeks, seek medical care. First, make an appointment with your primary care physician.

    Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present in addition to back pain:

    • Severe abdominal pain
    • Unexplained fever
    • Loss of control of your bowels or bladder

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    History Of Lifting Biomechanics Research

    In the past, lifting advice has been extrapolated from cadaveric studies. These studies suggested the lumbar spine is susceptible to failure when repeatedly flexed, and is weaker when flexion and compression are combined. However, there is uncertainty about how transferable cadaveric findings are to real-life lifting situations. Another influence on lifting advice has been early in-vivo work that demonstrated higher lumbar disc pressure during forward bending of the trunk or when a load was lifted.

    A limitation of the in-vivo studies was that they did not consider lumbar spine curvature during lifting and were conducted without comparing between groups with and without LBP. Spinal loads are similar when lifting with a flexed spine to lifting with a straight lumbar spine. While there is some evidence from epidemiology studies that high mechanical loads are a risk factor for LBP, those studies did not examine whether lumbar flexion during lifting was a risk factor.

    How To Relieve Back Pain

    The following tips may help reduce your back pain and speed up your recovery:

    • stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities this is 1 of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse
    • try exercises and stretches for back pain other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful
    • take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure
    • use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief you can buy these from a pharmacy, or a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel will work just as well

    Although it can be difficult, it helps if you stay optimistic and recognise that your pain should get better. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.

    Back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.

    But it’s a good idea to get help if:

    • the pain does not start to improve within a few weeks
    • the pain stops you doing your day-to-day activities
    • the pain is very severe or gets worse over time
    • you’re worried about the pain or struggling to cope

    If you see a GP they will ask about your symptoms, examine your back and discuss possible treatments.

    They may refer you to a specialist doctor or a physiotherapist for further help.

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    Treating Lower Back Pain

    There are three stages to low back pain treatment, says Armia Abdo, DPT, a physical therapist and chief clinical officer of Alignmed, Santa Ana, California. “The first stage is allowing the area to heal, which can take up to 14 days, depending on the level of injury,” he says, noting that the idea is to avoid putting more stress on the back, which could impede recovery.

    Once your lower back is no longer painful at rest, Abdo says it’s time to move to phase two, which involves working to regain any lost movement and coordination in your lower back. You move out of this phase when you can do your everyday activities without pain, he says.

    The final phase is the return to fitness activities, says Abdo. “You should be able to start the same activities you did previously, but if it’s been longer than two weeks, it’s typical to lose some strength so you will need to gradually increase to get back to your previous routine,” Abdo says.

    If the back pain stems from more than pulled muscles and isn’t localized to just one spot in the back, Dr. Shaw says that testing, possibly with X-rays or an MRI, may be needed to diagnose the problem and identify more specific treatment.

    Beginning With Heavy Weights

    How to Improve Your Posture and Relieve Back Pain

    Many injuries happen at the gym because the person lifted weights that were too heavy. While you should challenge your bodys performance, youll want to take small steps by starting with lighter weights and adding more weight gradually as you start mastering the exercise, especially if youre a beginner.

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    When Is Not Helpful

    Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a health care provider. The good news is that the pain often goes away on its own, and people usually recover in a week or two. Many people want to stay in bed when their back hurts. For many years, getting bed rest was the normal advice. But current studies recommend no bed rest at all and stress that staying in bed longer than 48 hours not only wont help but it may, in fact, actually delay your recovery. Heres why:

    Staying in bed wont help you get better faster.If youre in terrible pain, lying down for a day to help ease the distress may seem like a good idea, but moderating your activities and staying active in a limited way is a more effective way to control your symptoms. Research suggests that if you can find comfortable positions and keep moving, you may not need bed rest at all.Research shows that:

    • Lying down longer than a day or two day isnt helpful for relieving back pain.
    • People can recover more quickly without any bed rest.
    • The sooner you start moving, even a little bit, or return to activities such as walking, the faster you are likely to improve.

    Where Can I Get More Information

    For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:

    Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892

    NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.

    All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

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    What To Do About Back Pain After Lifting Weights

    If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you know how frustrating it is to be sidelined due to lower back pain after lifting weights. But by correcting your form, lifting the appropriate weight and allowing adequate recovery time, you should be able to minimize this post-exercise back pain.

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    Pain Relief: Try Partial Crunches

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    One of the classic core-strengthening workouts is the partial stomach crunch. Partial crunches build strength in both your lower back and related stomach muscles, making this an ideal exercise for people with spondylosis.

    Here’s how to get the most out of partial crunches:

    • Lie back, and keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent.
    • With your hands behind your head or with arms crossed around your chest, raise your shoulders from the floor. Make sure to keep your stomach muscles tight.
    • Breath out while raising your shoulders. Avoid leading with your elbows .
    • Hold for one second. Next, lower yourself back down to the floor in a controlled manner.
    • Repeat with between eight and 12 repetitions.Remember to follow proper form, which prevents excessive spine stress. Keep your feet, tailbone, and lower back against the floor throughout the exercise.

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