Dumbbell curls and mid back pain.

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    Jul 09, 2009 12:20 AM GMT
    Folks,

    I am having the oddest problem. Occasionally when I do dumbbell curls I will get a pain in my mid back, at the same level as the solar plexus. I have watched videos on proper form and tried to keep an eye out for poor form, but that doesn't seem to be it.

    In your experience, what do you think I could do to fix this? Should I work harder on my core and back to strengthen it, or do you think I am flat wrong about having good form?

    Thanks RJ.
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    Jul 09, 2009 5:54 AM GMT
    take a video of you doing a curl and post it here *nods* *coughs* shirtless if at all possible icon_razz.gif
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    Jul 09, 2009 6:16 AM GMT
    Sounds like it could be a core strength issue, since the muscles around that area of your back are used to stabilize your torso when you're doing any upright activity. You could try taking a day or two out of your week to focus on exercises that will strengthen these, such as swiss/bosu ball exercises (force you to balance), pilates, and/or yoga.
  • MikemikeMike

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    Jul 09, 2009 7:04 AM GMT
    Try isolated seated single arm dumbell curls. Right elbow against right thigh curl toward chin. The repeat on the opposite arm and leg. Good thing about this type of curling -you can't cheat and it leaves your lower and mid back out of the exercise. If it was my body I would do reverse roman chair site ups to strengthen my back.

    Good Luck.
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    Jul 09, 2009 7:34 AM GMT
    Sharp pain? Dull, achy pain? Positioned around your back (spine), your front (under breastbone) or the middle? Lasts just briefly during the movement or leaves you sore afterward? If so, how long? Are you doing standing or sitting curls?

    I'm trying to determine if you've got muscular issues, some unknown internal thing, or a vertebral / pinched nerve thingy.

    K
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    Jul 09, 2009 8:26 AM GMT
    iguanaSF saidSharp pain? Dull, achy pain? Positioned around your back (spine), your front (under breastbone) or the middle? Lasts just briefly during the movement or leaves you sore afterward? If so, how long? Are you doing standing or sitting curls?

    I'm trying to determine if you've got muscular issues, some unknown internal thing, or a vertebral / pinched nerve thingy.

    K


    to this i would also ask: are standing dumbbell curls the only time you feel this sensation? are there other activities that elicit this response? can you recall when you first started to feel this sensation and what movement where you doing at the time (was it the standing curls?) on a pain scale of 1 to 10, what is it like? does it change during movement? if so, how?

    my initial gut reaction makes me believe it is a core strength issue, but you seem to be feeling the pain a bit too high, so i'm inclined to think it may be a nerve issue; but taking into consideration that i haven't visually seen your movement, and i'm not a physician, and didn't even sleep at a holiday inn express last night (although i'm a certified personal trainer and massage therapist), i'd take whatever i'd say with a grain of salt (and a lime and a shot of tequila).

    if you work out at a gym, see if you could ask of of their personal trainers (but only if they are actually nationally certified, and even then, be skeptical). an exercise physiologist would be ideal (but only if they actually train themselves), but how often do you come across one of those?

    crap. sorry if this didn't help you at all munchingzombie. icon_redface.gif
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    Jul 09, 2009 9:12 AM GMT
    Try doing your curls with your back against a wall. This will prevent you from using your back during the exercise.

    I have seen guys at the gym doing bicep curls and they give a bit of a snap with the torso to start lifting the dumbbell. This, in fact, is cheating, cuz they arent really lifting all that weight with their biceps. But using the momentum generated by the snap to do some of the work.

    You may find that you cant lift as heavy a dumbbell with your back to a wall, but that is ok, cuz you will be concentrating all the work into the biceps.
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    Jul 09, 2009 9:29 AM GMT
    When I do standing dumbbell curls I stand with one foot forward and braced, with bends in my knees. That helps take the strain off my lower and middle back, which I have problems with.
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    Jul 09, 2009 10:42 AM GMT
    Lifting heavy weights above the waist causes significant stresses on the lower spine. Exercises that fit in this group include military presses, shrugs, biceps curls. People do not realize the amount of strain placed on the lumbar spine by standing curls. Swinging the weights while cheating adds to the strain on the low back. Alternating standing biceps curls with dumbbells is less stressful to the back than barbell curls. I found that sitting while doing dumbbell curls is not as hard on the back. Preacher dumbbell curls never bother me. I did manage to hurt my back doing barbell preacher curls. Sitting shrugs and military presses are also suggested as a way of reducing back pain.
    Having a strong core will always reduce the chance of having a back injury.
    You are not thirty yet, but always need to keep the following in mind.
    Those between the ages of 30 and 40 are at a higher risk of developing herniated disks since after age 30 the disks begin to dehydrate becoming less resilient. After age 40, disks will form an extra fibrous tissue around them that increases their strength.
    Take care and lift safely.
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    Jul 09, 2009 12:17 PM GMT
    Thanks for your replies everyone. An answer to a few of the questions

    1) It only happens when I do standing dumbbell curls. Never bar curls, never seated curls. Doesn't matter if I curl it or do hammer curls.

    2) The pain is around my spine, just opposite the solar plexus.

    3) It starts during or just after I do that exercise and lasts for a few hours after.

    4) It is a dull pain, I think. Feels like a hurt muscle, though I have no problem doing back exercises when this happens.

    5) From 1-10, it is around a 4. It isn't enough to make me stop. But it is enough to make me concerned.

    I have paid attention to my form, and again, I don't think that is the problem. If I cheat, it is the last rep of my last set.

    My goal isn't to find other exercises to do. I mix up my training program regularly so all the wonderful exercises you mention are things I do. I just recognize that this problem with this particular one indicates a problem.

    I think I will ask a personal trainer to give a professional look at my form as well as talk to my doctor about the possibility of a pinched nerve.

    Again, thank you all for your wonderful and helpful replies.
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    Jul 09, 2009 10:20 PM GMT
    I agree with everything Mr. Draggin says.

    My advice:

    1) Dumbbells only for now. More freedom of individual arm motion lessens joint/skeletal impact (mostly for wrists/arms, but also for your back when you're moving the bar to/from the rack and hoisting it into position), and also can help you develop better form.

    2) Seated versions only for now, for all "above waist" exercises. Reduces stress on the spine.

    3) Refocus on your core strength. Both strength AND flexibility. I can't stress that "AND" conjunction too much. Look up RJ core exercises for strength (there are at least 50 or 60 of them), but find a good physio or trainer for flexibility work -- RJ is less informative in that area.

    4) If you happen to know a good chiropractor, then have a visit. By good, I mean one who will recommend a program of flexibility and strength and will share your goal of getting you to manage your body all by yourself, versus coming in every week or two for the rest of your life for an adjustment.

    Just an added note -- there may actually be nothing wrong with your form at all. You can still put too much strain on your back if you have a weak core, or a misaligned spine, or a cockeyed disc/vertebrae, etc.