Got Back Pain? You Should be Lifting
You Can Still Lift with Back Pain – And You Should
Back pain shouldn’t be a sign that you need to be more gentle to your back, it should be a wake up call that you need to make it healthier and stronger – and the best way to do that is to lift. Here’s why.
Back pain is rarely as scary as you think
Most back pain – especially the dull, stiff, niggling pain that you might associate with sitting at a desk all day – is caused by tightness, weakness or injury to muscles in the back rather than issues with the spine itself.
This means that in order to resolve this back pain, you need to gradually strengthen and lengthen your back muscles to take load away from sensitised and overloaded tissue that is causing you pain.
However, many people with back pain do the exact opposite. Either out of fear of making their pain worse or as an automatic response, they avoid moving their back as much as possible. This makes the back even weaker and more vulnerable to further injury and pain.
A strong back is a healthy back, and the best way to make your back strong is to lift.
Isn’t lifting dangerous?
Lifting gets a bad reputation because the injuries that can occur from it are dramatic and sometimes debilitating.
However, such injuries are rare and are usually as a result of irresponsibly overloading. If you follow a very gradual, responsible programme, lifting is entirely safe and highly beneficial for your health – especially your spinal health.
Let’s say you’re given a programme of three sets of ten repetitions. You should only do as many reps as you can while maintaining good form (knees aligned, back straight, hips neutral).
As soon as you feel your form slipping, you simply stop. Adjust the weight you are lifting until you can complete all three sets without breaking form. This is now your base programme that you will build from.
You then gradually increase the weight by no more than 10% a week. This should keep pace with your body’s ability to gain strength, but if you ever find yourself losing form, simply drop back to the previous weight.
But don’t just go down to the gym and start lifting. You should see a physiotherapist first so that they can assess the strength of your back and advise you on a safe lifting
programme. If you have back pain, we can also rule out the possibility that there is a more serious cause.
How does lifting make my back stronger?
Our backs are adapted to be able to move and carry heavy loads. Unfortunately, modern life rarely loads our backs to the amount they should be subjected to, and as a result many of us have backs far weaker than they should be.
Heavy lifting stresses the back, which adapts by increasing muscle mass and strength. Your vertebrae will also become more dense and strong, which is vital to reducing the onset of osteoporosis in later life.
It will also improve your posture, as your spine will now be supported by much stronger muscles.
Your back needs to move as well
You should also do a range of lighter lifting exercises to improve lower back flexibility. This will actually involve bending your back rather than just your legs.
For these exercises you want to stay very light, no more than a kilo or two, and lift the weight (or object, such as a book or a carton of milk) by bending through your back.
To further improve flexibility, you can also rotate from side to side with your hips straight before lowering the weight back down again.
Many back injuries aren’t as a result of lifting heavy objects, rather they’re from mundane day to day movements like picking up a baby or the shopping from the floor.
If your back isn’t used to bending, even a relatively light weight can overload and injure its muscles and ligaments. Regularly training you back to be able to bend as well as lift will prepare it for whatever life throws at you.
If you would like a lifting programme designed specifically around you, your lifestyle and your fitness level, get in touch with the clinic now on 020 7093 3499 or email us at email@example.com