What To Do When Back Pain Throws a Wrench In Your Workout

Simple moves like lunges can strengthen muscles and prevent back pain. Credit: lululemon athletica

There’s nothing like a little back pain to throw a total wrench into your workout plan. And I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people forgo different exercises because they don’t want to “throw their back out.” While people suffer from and talk about back pain a lot, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of practical, actionable and easy-to-understand advice out there. So when Certified Rolfer and creator of 5 Secrets to a Flexible & Pain Free Body Sukie Baxter offered to give us a few tips on how active women can prevent and properly deal with an aching back (re: without painkillers!), we were game. Read on for the 411 on working out and back pain!

What You Need to Know About Back Pain and Working Out

You’re working out. You’ve joined a gym, started a dance class, taken up with a running group and discovered that you like it. You really, really like it! You’re right in the middle of admiring your shapely curves in the mirror and enjoying that extra energy spark you get from upping your heart rate every day when wham! It strikes…that sharp, debilitating pain in your hip and lower back.

Back and sciatic nerve pain will wipe out your workouts—and fast. It’s impossible to enjoy a pleasant jog around the neighborhood when even the slightest movement makes you grit your teeth in agony. But the alternative—being stuck on the couch and waiting for the pain to disappear—is almost less appealing.

The good news is that back pain is rarely serious. While in some cases it can be a result of traumatic injury, like in the case of an auto accident or a bad fall, it’s much more common that back pain results from imbalanced muscle patterns that wear your body down over time.

Because we’re born and bred in artificial environments with all the accoutrements of modern living like cushy couches and computer desks, just about everyone has a mix of muscles that are a lot tighter than they should be coupled with muscles that are way too weak. Add in the fact that these unique patterns aren’t necessarily symmetrical (i.e. your left quad might be tight when it’s the glute that’s doing all the work on the right) and you have a recipe for pain.



Comments

  1. Lisa R says

    If you truly have pain you can’t fix it yourself by the above exercises/stretching you have in the article. You need to see a Chiropractor or licensed Massage Therapist to help manually shift either the lumbar area of the spine or the muscle and fascial tissues in the sciatic area. You are right that the pain is only masked by drugs, not correcting the problem. So do yourself a favor and get it fixed the right way. The exercises here are good AFTER you have the problem correctly fixed.

  2. Cat says

    I have a bulging disc in my lower back and am under the care of a chiropractor. I have been doing the shoulder bridges as instructed by him for a couple of weeks now, along with a small list of other strengthening moves. I have been told to minimize the time spent sitting so I stand all day at my desk job and in the evenings at home. I am also not allowed to bike (because of the sitting) or run (because of compression/jolting) so I get my cardio by walking and on the elliptical. I am hopeful that I’ll be able to return to running but I know that this disc will always be a weak spot on me and may plague me the rest of my life. :(

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