How To Avoid Back Pain At The Gym

Regular exercise is a great way to maintain spinal health, but sometimes overexertion can do more harm than good. 

At our chiropractic and physio clinic in Brighton, we often see people who have sustained a back injury from improper technique at the gym. Most commonly, this comes from bad ‘form’ in weight-lifting, as this kind of exercise often targets the lumbar region and lower spine. However, sometimes even doing an exercise properly, like deadlifts, will cause back pain. Deadlifts are the commonest form of gym injury that we see. We recommend that you avoid dead-lifting unless you have a high level of fitness and have trained to do them.

Back pain can be the result of failure to warm up and cool down before and after exercise, or just generally pushing your body too far. As a general rule, don’t increase the weight or reps too soon. Also, after a lay-off don’t start back at the same level. Go back to a lower weight and build up again slowly. For every week off, use two weeks to get back to the same level as before the break.

Fortunately, these problems are easily resolved with minor tweaks to your routine. 

  • Use lunges instead of deadlifts
  • Use machines rather than free weights
  • Vary your routines to avoid overloading the same areas

Back Pain After The Gym – What You Need To Know

Minor soreness after exercise is perfectly normal, especially if you’re new to a certain kind of workout. It is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. This comes from exerting muscles that you don’t often use which causes micro-tears in the muscle.This may result in temporary pain or a feeling of ‘tightness’. This usually lasts around two to three days at most. In cases like this, it’s a good idea to keep exercising regularly and gently while your body gets used to your new routine. 

However, intense and sudden pain during or after a workout is a sign you should see a chiropractor or physio, especially if it interferes with your day to day functioning. This could indicate a torn ligament or muscle, or in rarer cases a disc herniation. 

So How Can I Prevent Back Pain After A Workout?

  1. Engage Your Core. Build core exercises into your routine. A strong core provides stability and support for your back during exercises. Make sure to engage your core muscles throughout your workouts, especially during movements that involve lifting or bending.
  2. Pay attention to your form. When lifting weights, maintain a flat back and engage your core as strongly as you can. This is the best way to protect your spine when lifting. Avoid deadlifts. Even done perfectly, they can cause a disc tear.
  3. Stay hydrated and take regular breaks. Dehydration is a notorious cause of muscle cramping, and combined with an over strenuous work-out routine is a perfect storm for back pain.
  4. Listen to your body. If you feel a sudden intense pain or even a slow building of muscle tension, don’t push through the workout. 
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of simple exercise. While strength training is paramount to maintaining a healthy spine and staying fit, it’s important to prepare your body for weightlifting and gym-based workouts with a gentle and effective exercise routine. 

For more information, watch the video below!

Gym injuries are very common but are almost always easily resolved. If you would like to know more, book in with Sundial today