Tips for Avoiding Back Injury in the Gym
The last thing you want when you go to the gym is an injury. Weight-training injuries are often caused by poor technique which can tear a muscle or connective tissue, damage a spinal disc, or contribute to a degenerative disorder. Weight trainers in particular are prone to back injuries in the lumbar region or the lower spine that may lead to occasional twinges or long-lasting and persistent intense pain. Here are tips for avoiding a serious back injury during your workouts.
Don’t Use Too Much Weight
Using too much weight is asking for trouble. If you can’t control the weight on its downward trajectory, contain a movement within its boundaries, or have to jerk or heavy the weight to lift it, it’s too much.
Lift Weights Correctly
Heavy objects should always be lifted with smooth, slow movements, not jerky movements that can strain muscles. Do not make any twisting movements and keep the load close to your body. Be sure you lift with your legs by bending your knees, not your back, to pick up the weights. Try to carry weights in the space between your waist and shoulders to avoid strain on the back muscles.
Always Do a Warm-up
A warm-up is low-intensity, quick-paced exercise that boosts blood flow to the muscles and raises the temperature of the muscles to promote mobility and flexibility. Make sure you spend at least 10 minutes warming up before you stretch. This may include calf raises, squats, leg curls, crunches, bench presses, and curls. Be sure you stretch before lifting, too. Here are some back-friendly stretches to try:
– Supported hamstring stretch. Rather than touching your toes, put the heel of one leg on a chair and tilt your pelvis forward. Keep your back straight while leaning forward, reaching with both hands above your foot until you feel a gentle pull up the back of your leg.
– Side-lying quadriceps stretch. The classic hurdler’s stretch that involves sitting upright while extending one leg in front and bending the other is safer when done lying down. Lie down on your right side with your head on your right arm, your legs stacked, and your spine aligned. Bend your left knee, bringing the foot to your hip and using your hand to pull the foot toward your tailbone. Repeat for both sides.
– Reverse curl-ups. The class leg raise puts a great deal of stress on the spine. A reverse curl-up puts less torque on your spine while still targeting the abs. Lie on your back with your arms extended and palms down. Bend and raise both knees to a 90-degree angle to your torso with your feet off the floor for the start position. Next, bring both knees to your chest while you lift your hips off the floor the return to the start position before repeating.
Consider Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic adjustments can be an excellent preventative form of care for weightlifters and it can treat injuries that have already occurred due to weight training. A chiropractor can help you evaluate your posture and recommend changes to prevent injury. Along with adjustments, supporting therapies like physical therapy and sports massage can reduce the risk of back injuries at the gym.