Advice on working out in a way that is good for your back

  • natsimjac1988

    Posts: 109

    Dec 14, 2013 7:43 PM GMT
    As a relatively tall guy, I sometimes have to worry about my back. I occasionally get back pain after an intense work out, particularly when doing lunges/squats. In general, I have heard that the best thing to do is to try to keep your back as straight as possible, but this doesn't always seem to work. I rarely do squats any more because it seems like no matter what it causes back pain later on. Lunges seem to work well for my legs/glutes, but every once in a while I get pain from this as well. Any advice on this? Does anyone else, particularly my fellow tall brothers, find this as an issue? Also, when I am on the bench lifting a barbell, my back tends to want to get that curve along the bottom; is this normal? I hate to try to go to a physical therapist to pay for this advice, but I am thinking that may be what I need to do. Thanks guys!
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    Dec 14, 2013 8:13 PM GMT
    natsimjac1988 saidAs a relatively tall guy, I sometimes have to worry about my back. I occasionally get back pain after an intense work out, particularly when doing lunges/squats. In general, I have heard that the best thing to do is to try to keep your back as straight as possible, but this doesn't always seem to work. I rarely do squats any more because it seems like no matter what it causes back pain later on. Lunges seem to work well for my legs/glutes, but every once in a while I get pain from this as well. Any advice on this? Does anyone else, particularly my fellow tall brothers, find this as an issue? Also, when I am on the bench lifting a barbell, my back tends to want to get that curve along the bottom; is this normal? I hate to try to go to a physical therapist to pay for this advice, but I am thinking that may be what I need to do. Thanks guys!

    What are you doing to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles? I'd think that that would help. I've never understood why people who lift weights don't like to do abdominals work.
  • starboard5

    Posts: 969

    Dec 14, 2013 8:25 PM GMT
    Yes, spend the money, see a doc and get a referral to a physical therapist. If you wreck your back you'll spend much more.

    I've been taught that you SHOULD keep that curve in your lower back as it is anatomically natural and the way the spine is designed to bear a load. Flattening the lower back and then loading the spine could predispose you to disc herniation. A qualified trainer is the one to ask.

    Finally, always emphasize core. I had a back strain that wouldn't resolve for over a year. I finally went to a personal trainer. He started me out with low weights, typically 15 reps of any lift, and focused on my core strength. Even when I was doing lifts not specifically targeting the core, he had me do them in a core-centric way. Simple example: when I did dumbbell curls, he would make me stagger my stance and keep my back foot up on the toes. This introduces an element of balance and forces you to engage your core. Things like that. Within 3-4 months I had a lasting improvement in my back.

    Your workouts are an investment in your health. Fitness isn't self-indulgent. Don't be afraid to shell out a little coin to take care of yourself. It could turn out to be preemptive.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4434

    Dec 14, 2013 8:36 PM GMT
    Ya, do core work. But lay off the exercises that bother your back for a while. You can do most of it on machines with a small cushion in the small of your back and keep 90% of the benefit. And be sure to warm up on a bike or treadmill and then do a lot of stretching before you work out-- even if it isn't back day. Just develop a routine and do it every day-- but do it while you're warm from the bike or treadmill.
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    Dec 14, 2013 9:28 PM GMT
    natsimjac1988 saidAs a relatively tall guy, I sometimes have to worry about my back. I occasionally get back pain after an intense work out, particularly when doing lunges/squats. In general, I have heard that the best thing to do is to try to keep your back as straight as possible, but this doesn't always seem to work. I rarely do squats any more because it seems like no matter what it causes back pain later on. Lunges seem to work well for my legs/glutes, but every once in a while I get pain from this as well. Any advice on this? Does anyone else, particularly my fellow tall brothers, find this as an issue? Also, when I am on the bench lifting a barbell, my back tends to want to get that curve along the bottom; is this normal? I hate to try to go to a physical therapist to pay for this advice, but I am thinking that may be what I need to do. Thanks guys!
    Either you're using really bad form in your workouts, or you have a back problem. I would suggest going to a doctor to rule out the latter. Once you get the greenlight from your doctor, you can focus on the workout form.
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    Dec 14, 2013 9:39 PM GMT
    A couple things. Try wearing a belt until your core gets stronger.(do planks and hyperextensions to strengthen your core) Go to youtube and search for squats, lunges deadlifts etc for tall people. Both of these suggestions are controversial. I had a tall (6'4") training partner who constantly hurt his back when I had no problem. I think the mechanics are different for tall people.
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    Dec 15, 2013 12:20 AM GMT
    A good exercise for the lower back is to lie flat on a mat (e.g., a yoga pad) on your stomach. Then left each leg up about a foot or so; keep the leg straight and hips down. You can alternate or do a bunch for each leg before switching to the other leg. After a few weeks and you can do many with each leg then get some ankle weights. 10 pound ankle weights are easy to find, 20 pound ones are harder to find; I found mine on Amazon. Make sure they're 10 pounds each and 20 pounds each.
  • Beeftastic

    Posts: 1747

    Dec 15, 2013 12:26 AM GMT
    While you all probably know this, if you squeeze your butt cheeks while doing things that put pressure on your lower back, it relieves the pressure. This helps me with some upper body movements that can be stressful on the lower back. I used to have lower back problems, but that hasn't bothered me in a long time.
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    Dec 15, 2013 5:10 AM GMT
    I will say it again, get yourself a ball, it is what physical therapy uses, I have been there






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    Dec 15, 2013 5:47 AM GMT
    Proper form like keeping your core engaged and squeezing the butt cheeks as mentioned above help. There are also more stable alternatives to risky exercises that you can do with the aim of eventually building up to the riskier ones, i.e.:

    - seated leg press pushing legs straight forward instead of lying leg press pushing legs upward

    - chest supported t-bar rows instead of barbell rows

    - butt blaster instead of lunges

    - hyperextensions/roman chair instead of deadlifts

    - seated calf raises instead of standing calf raises

    - back supported hack squat machine instead of free weight or smith squats

    - when benching, press low back into bench; if you have to arch it (cheat) the weight's too heavy and you're not isolating your chest and are working your arms more than your pecs
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    Dec 15, 2013 1:12 PM GMT
    I work in occupational Therapy. You may need to wear a lifting belt when you squat especially with heavy weight. Strenghting your core by working your abs also strengthens your lower back. When you squat make sure you are doing proper form. Have some one analysis you squatting technique.
  • GWriter

    Posts: 1446

    Dec 15, 2013 10:14 PM GMT
    Please disregard if you like, but I think all these suggestions to wear a weight belt are rubbish. A weight belt is (or used to be, when it was first invented) a very specific instrument for a few defined purposes (i.e. providing extra intra-abdominal pressure on the erector spinae to support extremely heavy, competition-level squats and deadlifts).
    If you are a normal person doing fairly normal weightlifting for general strength and muscular hypertrophy, you should not need a weight belt. If you think you do need one, focus on getting stronger without one!
    Today, a weight belt is too often used as crutch.. with all the implications meant by that word.
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Dec 15, 2013 10:25 PM GMT
    My best advice, as quite a tall guy myself, is:
    Pilates
    It changed my life because I always used to get major back fatigue (nothing serious - if you have serious pain, it could be injury, and then I agree with the SEE A DOCTOR comments) when doing squats and lunges, both of which are a very necessary part of my routine.
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    Dec 16, 2013 5:56 PM GMT
    GWriter saidPlease disregard if you like, but I think all these suggestions to wear a weight belt are rubbish. A weight belt is (or used to be, when it was first invented) a very specific instrument for a few defined purposes (i.e. providing extra intra-abdominal pressure on the erector spinae to support extremely heavy, competition-level squats and deadlifts).
    If you are a normal person doing fairly normal weightlifting for general strength and muscular hypertrophy, you should not need a weight belt. If you think you do need one, focus on getting stronger without one!
    Today, a weight belt is too often used as crutch.. with all the implications meant by that word.
    I agree. Belts, wraps, and straps have their uses. But people tend to misuse them and eventually they become dependent on them.
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    Dec 17, 2013 12:00 AM GMT
    I'll add to the chorus. Strengthen transverse abdominis (planks, v holds). Practice squats and lunges without using weight, practice engaging your core and either watch yourself in a mirror or have someone else watch you to make sure your form is correct. Be aware of any weak spots or points where you feel off balance. If you work a desk job, be sure to focus on flexibility in your hips and hamstrings. Tightness in those areas can contribute to low back pain as well. If you are arching your back when you bench, then you may be lifting more weight than you should be (there's a difference between can and should).

    Just my 2 cents.