So the other day I strained my back, annoyingly, as I take good care of myself. I do appropriate warmups for my sessions, include glute and core movements into my programme and regularly focus on bracing and rigidity – so why did I strain my back?
Well, like anything moderately strenuous, lifting weights will always carry this risk. It happens sometimes and can be dealt with fairly easily if muscular. If you feel it is anything more than muscular, this article probably won’t cut it – go and see a physiotherapist/osteopath/chiropractor.
- Don’t panic – a lot of people (understandably) freak out when something goes wrong with their back, it is highlighted as a vulnerable structure with all sorts of irreparable damage associated with injuring it.
- Keep moving – probably the most important point! It is KEY when you strain your back to keep moving, even on the day you strain it. Staying sedentary, shoving down a load of painkillers and “resting” unnecessarily won’t do much and just sets you back more. Air squats, air deadlifts, cat cows, bird dogs and deadbugs are just a few exercises you can and should do (and then can be added to regular routine if you don’t already).
- Review – take a bit of time to reconsider why the strain might have happened. There can be many reasons from lack of recovery, stress and more obvious things like lifting with poor form or not warming up sufficiently. It can happen out of the blue too, but figuring out where it is coming from means you can make amendments and improve.
- Prevent – now is the time to do those weighted planks you’ve been skipping, or making time for those extra couple of hours of sleep. I know for me personally that a couple of weeks slacking on the little things led to this, so get those preventative methods locked down!
Areas to strengthen and exercise ideas – key areas to strengthen that relate to back health are the glutes and the core. For glutes, things like hip thrusts, frog pumps and lateral movements (perhaps using a resistance band) are easy to do and easily applicable. For core, I’d involve a flexion movement such as crunches or hanging leg raises, something that requires stabilisation like farmer’s walks or Pallof press and an exercise that builds rigidity such as a weighted plank. There may be more useful advice in this article.
I’d also recommend doing some form of decompression and relaxation. This doesn’t provide any magical or miraculous benefit but realistically it feels good and for those with an overactive lumbar region or hypertonicity in the back this can be beneficial. For example, hanging from a squat rack or pullup bar is an easy example. Hyperextensions can be a great way to strengthen and stretch simultaneously as well as being easy to perform.
There is a post labelled “Back Health” (ironically) on my Instagram which contains some good strengthening exercises in it too. Having a short, easy-to-do routine is ideal to be able to fit back health exercises in week-to-week. It shouldn’t be something that is left until too late.
Feel free to contact me with any feedback, questions or enquiries at: firstname.lastname@example.org or interact with me on Facebook at “Ben Glasscock Powerlifter” and/or Instagram where I post pretty much every day: @blgstrength or a link here. Coaching is available at very reasonable rates too, get in contact via email, Facebook and/or Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!