The purpose of exercising is to help maintain or improve your physical condition; but if you're not careful, it can do just the opposite.
If you work out too hard or use improper form, you could end up with back injuries that pause or even end your exercise routine. This is especially true if you have pre-existing pain or mobility limitations.
Here are eight tips that will help eliminate back pain and injuries when working out:
- Know your body - Certain exercises can strengthen your back and alleviate some of the issues you may be experiencing.. However, some exercises may exacerbate back problems. For example, people with bad backs should avoid doing stretches using a stability ball or high-impact jumping exercises. Ease into new workouts, and pay attention to what your body tells you. If an exercise starts to hurt, you shouldn’t keep doing it.
- Always warm up - Before beginning a workout, warm up. For example, before running, walk for 5 or 10 minutes. If you're planning on lifting weights, start with lower weights and do 8-12 reps for no more than three sets — even if it's easy. Warming up your muscles before diving into an intense workout will help reduce the risk of back injuries.
- Vary your workouts - Don't just lift weights repeatedly for days on end. Repeating the same muscle movements can lead to overuse and repetitive use injuries, which can affect your back. Instead, lift weights one day then use the treadmill the next to avoid back injuries caused by overuse or repetitive use.
- Stretch your upper back - If you work a sedentary job, then there's a chance that your back is rounded all day long. If you go to the gym following work and attempt to perform overhead shoulder lifts standing, you'll find your upper back won't properly extend, causing you to straighten and arch from your lower back. This can cause back soreness as well as serious back injuries. Before beginning such workouts, stretch and strengthen your upper back by performing straight-armed wall squats.
- Stretch your hamstrings - Tight hamstrings can lead to lower back pain. Stretch your hamstrings before workouts to help reduce tension in your hamstring muscles, thereby reducing stress in your lower back.
- Go swimming - Swimming is an excellent way to strengthen your back and neck muscles because it helps enhance the support of your spine and decreases the risk of back injuries when performing other types of workouts. Swimming is particularly effective since it's a low-impact exercise that won't require you to twist your back or add stress to it.
- Use a stairclimber instead of a treadmill - Stairclimbers won't put as much stress on your hamstrings as a treadmill. This is because stairclimbers require you to keep your back straight while also working out your quadriceps and hip girdle muscles, which also help protect your back.
- Strengthen your core - Perform specific exercises that strengthen your core, such as planks. Developing your abdominal muscles will provide more support for your spine, and stop your back muscles from having to take on as much stress during more intense workouts, which, in turn, will help prevent back injuries.
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