Image by Ichigo121212 from Pixabay
Kent Probst, BS, MEd
Kent Probst is the owner of Long Healthy Life Blog
The Importance of Preventing Lower Back Pain When Lifting Weights
There are many causes of low back pain, which results in loss of productivity and the inability to do the things you enjoy. This is why learning how to prevent lower back pain when lifting weights is integral to your success.
With aging and many years of use, the disks in the spine tend to degenerate, resulting in arthritis.
Low back pain can also be caused by the following:
- Herniated disk
- Facet joint damage
- Spinal stenosis
- Compression fracture
Because of the many injuries that can affect your low back, it’s important to learn how to prevent lower back pain when lifting weights.
8 Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain When Lifting Weights
1. Warm Up Before Your Workout
A pre-workout warm-up allows you to transition to the demands of your workout. A warm-up should include light to moderate activities that will increase range of motion and may reduce the risk of injury.
A dynamic warm-up limited to 15 minutes is more beneficial than static stretching when it comes to enhancing performance and preventing injury.
2. Use Correct Biomechanics
If you’ve worked with a personal trainer or fitness coach, they’ve probably told you to keep your abdominal muscles tight to stabilize your core and protect your back.
A number of studies demonstrate that improving core stability can decrease the risk of injury.
When lifting, keep the weight close to your body. Avoid taking a narrow stance for better stability.
Lift with the legs, bending the knees instead of the back. Pivot, turning your whole body, instead of twisting your back.
3. Increase Workloads in Small Increments
Beginners can start with 2 sets per exercise. More advanced people can do 4-6 sets per exercise.
Adjust your intensity based on your fitness level.
Regarding progression, when you can complete the full number of repetitions on a set, increase the load by 5% in the next training session.
Progression can also be achieved by increasing the number of sets, or doing higher repetitions.
4. Perform Repetitions at the Correct Speed
Performing repetitions too quickly can lead to poor lifting form and possible injury.
A significant body of research demonstrates that the optimal speed for repetitions is 0.5 to 6 seconds.
This time range includes the concentric contraction (shortening), the isometric contraction (static) and the eccentric contraction (lengthening).
The isometric contraction occurs between the concentric and eccentric contractions.
Furthermore, performing your repetitions significantly faster than 6 seconds doesn’t allow you to get the potential benefits (increased hypertrophy or muscle mass) of the eccentric contraction when done slowly.
5. Train at the Proper Intensity
Always training to failure can lead to overtraining, which is a decline in performance, or a lack of improvement.
The result of overtraining can be low back muscle strain and spasms.
While there can be some benefit to training to failure, it should be implemented in the last set of an exercise.
Most of your sets should be done to subfailure, allowing for 1 or 2 repetitions in reserve.
6. Incorporate Stretching into Your Workout
Every person has different needs regarding flexibility, but everyone should make flexibility a component of their fitness regimen. Regular stretching will improve flexibility.
Stretching increases pliability and reduces tight muscles. Muscles look for pliability as a cue, and use it as a stimulus for power and strength outcomes.
Pliable muscles, or muscles that are stretched, contract more forcefully than muscles that are tight.
Flexibility training, or stretching, should be done after an exercise session. Stretching is most effective when the muscles are warmed up.
Static stretching should be held for 30 seconds without pain.
Stretching longer than 60 seconds is detrimental to power, strength, and speed-dependent skills.
Each stretch should be done 3-5 times.
7. Avoid Exercises that Cause Pain
The old saying, “No pain, no gain,” is not necessarily true.
Pain is a warning sign that you should stop what you’re doing. Continuing to workout through pain will make the problem worse, and may lead to serious injury.
If the pain continues more than two weeks after rest, ice, and stretching, consult a physician.
8. Avoid Overtraining
Overtraining can lead to loss of muscle mass, excessive delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), muscle spasms, and eventual injury.
Many people fall prey to the belief that maximizing strength and muscle happens by continually increasing the volume and intensity of their resistance training. However, this eventually leads to overtraining.
Periodically changing your resistance training program, for example monthly, will also help you avoid overtraining.
Your training should alternate between periods of light training and heavy training.
Creating Your Plan
Your plan to prevent lower back pain should be a multifaceted strategy. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Your strategy should also include core strengthening. Core strengthening can be done a couple times per week and include conditioning that involves all the movements of the core.
By incorporating the recommendations outlined here, you’ll be on your way to preventing lower back pain when lifting weights.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.