The spine is a fragile part of the body, particularly among those who lift weights. Most back injuries occur in the lumbar region (lower back) and are caused by improper posture, poor technique and over lifting. By putting the following tips into practice, you can prevent back pain and reduce the risk of developing injuries when you're training.
Know Your Limits
If you aren't a seasoned lifter, it's always best to start on weight machines. Machines are often designed to reduce stress on the back and can be used with little supervision. Use a comfortable weight and perform 12 to 15 repetitions. Stop immediately if you reach a state of physical exhaustion or find yourself unable to perform the exercise with the correct posture. When you become exhausted you're back will be more prone to injury.
Increase your weight over time. If you encounter any back strain, consult a specialist. Chiropractors can devise a treatment plan that will help you mobilize your spine and increase its range of motion.
Free weights require an extremely strong and stable core; therefore, you shouldn't use them until you have a reasonable level of strength. While squats and deadlifts are great for strengthening the posterior chain, they must be performed correctly. When you're starting out, focus on form, rather than weight. Always use a spotter and seek advice from a gym instructor to ensure you're performing the exercise correctly. Never perform Olympic lifts, such as the clean and jerk or snatch, without proper training and supervision.
Rest and Recover
Rest is the most understated element of weight training. Too much exercise can actually become counter productive as it doesn't give your muscles time to recover and rebuild. Even if you focus each workout on a specific muscle group, you should still factor regular rest days into your routine.
Observe your sleeping position and use a firm mattress. Lying on your stomach will exaggerate your spinal arch and cause unnecessary strain. The fetal position, on the other hand, can relieve strain. Tucking a pillow between your legs can also ease pressure on your hips if they feel tight after a workout.
If you start developing symptoms consistent with lumbar back, such as pain, strain or numbness, rest and seek aid from a chiropractor or physician. A few weeks sitting on the sidelines is better than a long-term injury. Do not lift weights until the pain has completely subdued. In the meantime, if you can maintain a degree of mobility, keep the area stimulated with light exercise, such as walking, tai chi and swimming.