Low back pain related to working out: Advice and Personal experience

adult athlete cramps field

Injuries can range from the innocuous all the way to completely debilitating.

I remember the first time  I hurt my lower back. I was gripping on a 300 pound deadlift early on in my training, poor form no tight lower back, no braced core, rounded and I pulled. Then it happened, that firecracker went off in my back. 

I thought I had done it, this was it, I was going to be in a wheelchair, my back went into spasm, I lay on the floor in the gym for ten minutes, then I got up slowly and slowly hobbled home. Getting into the car was agony, getting out of the car was agony, getting up the stairs to my flat was agony.

I lay on the floor , I took some pain killers, then lay some more. Watched TV and lay some more, this continued for two days. I felt sorry and angry the entire time. 

Then slowly I started to walk and then a week later I was somewhat normal again.

What was I to do? How do you go about helping yourself.

I provide a template on how I have approached my recurring lower back pain injury over the years.

Now, I have also developed other injuries as well such as ankle, wrist and elbow but these usually go away with relatively simple measures , the lower back pain problem was always the one that needed me to use some element of cerebral prowess to get me going.

Lower back pain is the most annoying injury that I have sustained thus far because you cant bend or twist-these are vital to every day to day activity!

This isn’t a one size fits all approach to lower back pain, there are many different reasons for lower back pain which is beyond the scope of this post.

This is just about how I approached my back pain .

So let’s get into it

What do I do now? How do I prevent it from happening again? What are the warning signs?

So I injured my low back again, not deadlifting but doing something called a Cossack squat with weight.

This was dumb, because it was a new exercise and my low back was already feeling tight.

Here are some injury avoidance tips

  1. DO NOT attempt any new exercise under heavy load till you are comfortable with it.
  2. DO NOT attempt an exercise that puts you in a very deep range of motion that is uncomfortable for you ,especially under load. Work into it over time.
  3. Warm up thoroughly prior to working out strenuously. Get everything activated. Notice I say activated and not limber and loose. Limber and loose before heavy lifting usually equals injuries. After the heavy lifting not so much an issue.
  4. Do bridging exercises to increase spinal strength and flexibility. This exercise is amazing to prevent back pain. Please do not do it if you just suffered a back injury.
  5. Keep your hips and hamstrings mobile and strong. A lot of low back injuries come from weakness from these structures and your lower back taking the load instead.
  6. If certain exercises do not vibe with you, dont do them! I love deadlifts and certainly I could go much heavier when I did do them but the risk reward ratio started to mount up too high for me, so for now they have been dropped.
  7. If you feel your low back tightening up ,dont do heavy excercises that day instead spend some time stretching the area out.

 

So what should you do if you do get a low back injury?

 

  1. I am a doctor so I knew the my lower back injury was not particularly serious but if you are unsure see a medical professional or physical therapist ,especially if you have bowel/bladder disturbance or weakness in your legs.
  2. Once they have cleared anything serious and they have given the go ahead, get moving as soon as possible .
  3. Start doing everyday household tasks that don’t require excessive bending initially dishwashing, mowing the lawn ,anything really at a high level.
  4. If you need to get something off the floor, lunge you can always pick something up lunging instead of bending over.
  5. Start walking gently at first and then more briskly after.
  6. Use NSAIDs if you can, these are pain killers such as ibuprofen and Aspirin they help pain and inflammation. But don’t over do it, just take the recommended dose for the first day and then reduce after. What is going to help more is movement not over-reliance on pain killers.
  7. Work within your limits you know your body well.
  8. Stay positive positive mind will help you heal and keep sane.
  9. Stay moving I know I said this already but it’s really important!
  10. Eat healthy, there is a lot of inflammation going on in your body ,don’t add to this inflammation further by eating a bunch of crap. Lots of green stuff always helps
  11. When you are available start doing light stretching exercises such as in this low back pain rehab video
  12. Avoid sitting, sitting is really the worst thing you can do when you have a low back pain issue,if you need a bit of down time lie down on the couch instead of sit.
  13. Do not sleep on a poorly cushioned mattress that makes you sag all the way in, you need something firmer for the first few days minimum. I have taken to sleeping on the floor on one occasion! It felt horrible but worked really well for my back pain
  14. Avoid heavy deadlifts, squats, twisting weighted activities till you feel absolutely ready. When you do re-start start light. If you feel this particular exercise is not worth the hassle for you , there isn’t any shame to drop it.
  15. Strengthen your glutes- glute strengthening

 

So the 15 tips above have helped me with my low back injuries in the past.

I hope there is something in here that can help you too.

Stay positive .

Thanks for stopping by,

Phil

 

 

 

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