Weightlifting is a great way to keep your body healthy. Not only does it help with creating muscle tone and strength, weightlifting also promotes bone health. Regardless of your age or level of fitness, incorporating load-bearing exercises into your routine is an effective way to ensure you are healthy for years to come. If you have back pain, you may think that you have to avoid weightlifting altogether. However, with the right technique and a few other helpful tips, you can still benefit from lifting weights at the gym. In fact, you back will probably be better off because of it. Here are some things to get you started and on the way to a strong, back pain-free body:
1. Start Small
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they begin weightlifting is that they lift too heavy from the get go. Sometimes this is simply because they are excited to get started. Other times, this is because they feel they’re not doing anything unless they are lifting certain loads. Whatever the case may be, it important to start small. Sometimes a weight that feels light in the moment, can have you sore for days afterward. So take your time and build up your weight gradually. You can always add more weight the next time you workout.
2. Use Proper Technique
When it comes to lifting weights, proper technique is imperative when it comes to keeping your back happy. Improper technique can result in an increased amount of back pain or even injury. So before you get started with weightlifting, make sure you know what you are doing. There are countless videos available online that will show you the right way to lift weights. Alternately, consider hiring a personal trainer, at least in the beginning. Having someone watch over you while you workout will keep your technique right. Additionally, a personal trainer can tailor your training to support your back pain.
3. Avoid Fast Movements
Just like it’s important to start small when it comes to weightlifting, it’s also important to start slow. An explosive or quick movement might feel good in the moment, but afterward, your back may be out for days. It’s just not worth the risk. By doing slow, controlled movements, you can ensure that you are switching on the right muscles and supporting your back as you move. As you get stronger you will find you are able to move with more efficiency and power. Until you are confident that your back is going to be able to handle it, take your time while your weightlift.
4. Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Weak core muscles do more than just affect your back at the gym. They will also contribute to back pain outside of your workouts and in your daily life. When it comes to weightlifting, it is really strong core muscles that will allow you to lift more. So be sure to incorporate regular core strengthening exercises into your workout routine. You will be amazed at what a difference having strong core muscles make in regards to what you can do at the gym.
5. Take Rest Days
As you work on building up strength in your body, taking rest days is an important part of making sure you do get stronger. Every time you go to the gym and lift weights, your muscles get tiny tears. The body repairs the torn muscle fibers and the muscles get stronger as a result. To maximize your body healing, give yourself a rest day after every few workout sessions. If you prefer, you can do ‘active’ rest days where you do a low impact activity—such as yoga, swimming or walking. Rest days are also a great time to check in with your back and notice if your back pain has decreased.
Weightlifting and Back Pain
Whatever your motivation for starting to lift weights, be sure that it is in the service of your back pain. Part of getting into weight training is figuring out what works for your body. Something that may look good on paper may aggravate your back pain. Exercises that you may have never considered doing before might be just what your back needs. Be mindful of how you back feels and never push yourself beyond what feels right for your back. Ultimately your goal is to be strong and pain-free, so go slowly and enjoy the process of eliminating or reducing your back pain once and for all.