A recent survey found that almost 20% of Americans continue to work out rather than resting when they’re in pain. And although some pain and soreness after an intense workout are normal, sharp or long-lasting pain is a sign that you need to take a break.
Many Americans also use regular exercise as a way to reduce their back pain, but that’s only possible if you know the right exercises for you and how to perform them properly. If you’re experiencing back pain after you exercise, here are some of the things to watch out for that may worsen it and what you should do instead.
What May Be Causing Your Pain
Three of the biggest issues that plague those with constant back pain from exercise are not warming up, using improper form, and not working out their core.
Not Warming Up
When you’re preparing for exercise, the number one step is to warm up, either with stretches or low-impact exercises. Not doing so can open you up to more pain down the road, and hinder your progress toward your goal of lessening your back pain. Instead, you may be contributing to it directly, as the pain is your body’s response to not being braced or prepared for your exercise routine. This is especially important if you plan on lifting weights or participating in any other more strenuous exercise activities.
One main issue that people face when starting to exercise is proper form. Even after warming up, you may still have issues with back pain if you’re not utilizing the proper form. Two of the biggest sports that contribute to back pain due to this are running and weightlifting.
Since it’s one of the most commonly practiced sports with a 65% increase seen over the pandemic, running can be an accessible way to reduce your back pain by strengthening your core and other muscles. But because of this, it’s important to ensure that you’re running with proper form to get the most out of your exercise routine.
This includes keeping your chest outward with your shoulders back, taking shorter strides rather than longer ones, striking the ground with your mid-foot and pushing off of your toes, and moving your arms alongside your body, rather than across it. With just a few adjustments to your form, you can reduce your back pain and keep your muscles in top shape.
Just like running, weightlifting is another well-practiced sport with numerous benefits. But due to the emphasis on heavy weights, lifting incorrectly can greatly exacerbate your issues with back pain. One of the best ways to reduce this risk is to start your lifts with a neutral spine and avoid rounding your back when performing squats, deadlifts, and other lifts of this type.
Not Working Your Core
Each part of your body works to support the other and maintain equilibrium. But skipping out on exercising every muscle can lead to an imbalance in your muscle strength, as not exercising your core can lower the support they provide to your spine and therefore cause more back pain. However, you shouldn’t move straight into sit-ups and crunches, as they’ve been shown to actually worsen back pain rather than reduce it. Rather, you should focus on planks, mad cat stretches, and bridges.
What You Can Do To Prevent or Reduce Back Pain
So with these things to avoid in mind, what can you do to prevent or reduce your back pain? A couple of tips are to start doing yoga or stretches that target your core and back muscles and to visit a chiropractor.
Several stretches can help reduce back pain and strengthen your muscles. These include knee-to-chest, bird dog, and wall sits. Knee-to-chest stretches help to increase your joint flexibility along with helping with back pain, while the bird dog exercise strengthens your core by having you engage them and keep your back straight. Wall sits have all of the advantages of squats, as they work your lower back muscles without the heavy weights or possibility of back pain.
Visit a Chiropractor
Sometimes even your best efforts of reducing or eliminating your back pain through exercise won’t be enough, or your pain may be linked to a deeper issue that you’re unaware of. If your pain continues even with the tips mentioned, it may be time to seek a professional’s help.
Be Proactive About Your Back Pain
Although it may seem easy to brush off, you should be proactive about taking care of your back pain to avoid further damage or issues down the line. Reducing your pain through exercise can be a simple task if you’re doing the right exercises, but knowing what stretches work for you and your body is paramount to taking care of your health without exacerbating any issues with pain you already have.