Weight training has boomed in popularity in recent years. While it was once only bodybuilders you’d see pumping iron in the gym, now men and women of all sizes, ages and fitness levels are getting on board with the trend.
If you’re tempted to try weight training – great! Generally speaking, being fit and strong plays a really important role in preventing and managing back pain.
However, when it comes to weight lifting and back pain, there are a few vital things to consider:
Get existing back problems checked first
If you have a history of back, neck or shoulder pain, or back injuries such as prolapsed or herniated discs, it’s always a good idea to speak to a specialist physiotherapist before starting any new exercise regime – especially one like weight training which can put a lot of strain on the spine. They’ll be able to assess any existing problems and whether weight training is suitable for you right now. They might suggest waiting until existing injuries are better healed, or undergoing some physiotherapy first to improve any weaknesses or imbalances and reduce the risk of further problems.
Start with the basics
A super-strong body might be the end-goal, but if you want to look after your back and avoid injuries, then steer clear of short-cuts and any temptation to go from zero to hero. It really is important to nail the basics first – which means making sure your core strength and stability are in good shape. As well as regular physiotherapy, our specialists can advise on Pilates exercises tailored specifically to you. Our Spinal Core Rehabilitation Programme is expertly designed to help restore and build core strength.
Build up slowly
Once you’re ready to start weight training, it might be tempting to go full-throttle and really challenge yourself so you can see those ‘gains’ more quickly, but this can actually be quite dangerous and potentially damaging for your back. So be patient and build up slowly at a sensible pace to minimise your risk of injury.
The importance of good technique
Weight training isn’t just a question of brute force and heaving your way through a gruelling session. Whether you’re using machines in the gym, free weights or simply doing squats and push-ups, good technique is absolutely crucial for avoiding back pain and injury. Attempting weight training without proper instruction can be a fast-track to injury – especially when it comes to things like deadlifts, where good posture and core stability is absolutely vital. So, forget just ‘having a go’ and enlist the help of a qualified instructor or personal trainer to ensure you’re doing everything with good technique and using the gym equipment safely. If you already have a history of back pain or back injuries, a rehab specialist will be able to help tailor a gym programme that’s right for you.
Don’t ignore any niggles
If you do experience any new or worsening back, neck or shoulder pain after taking up weight training or a session in the gym, listen to your body and don’t ignore it. While, of course, some muscle fatigue is normal after a workout, any ongoing or severe pain, or pain that’s affecting your joints and movement or radiating to other areas – such as down your leg – might be a sign that something’s wrong. It’s always best to get these things checked sooner rather than later, to avoid them getting worse or causing further problems. Our specialist team uses a range of techniques and diagnostic methods to assess pain – so if you have any concerns, make an enquiry here today.