5 Reasons to Think Twice Before You Work Out with Back Pain


5 Reasons to Think Twice Before You Work Out with Back Pain

In today’s world, no one wants to be a quitter. Which is why many people believe that it’s necessary to “push through the pain” if they want to achieve or maintain fitness goals.

If your back is hurting, however, is this always a good idea? That would depend on several factors that you should consider before you hit the gym.

Should I Work Out if My Back Hurts?

Is your pain related to something you did recently such as lifting something heavy or trying a new exercise? If so, you most likely overworked your muscles. You can do some light exercise or modified exercises if they don’t make your back pain worse.

If this is a new pain and you have no idea what might have caused it (especially if the pain is moderate to severe) or if this pain has been pretty consistent and nothing you do seems to make it go away, you should not do heavy exercising or weight lifting until you know what the problem is.

Listen to Your Body

Trust the awareness you have of your own body. No one knows what feels good, bad, or normal more than you do.

When you pay attention to what you are doing and your pain levels, you can most likely determine whether or not what you are feeling means you should continue with this type of exercise and whether or not what you are feeling is normal.

For example, if you are feeling a numbness down the back of one leg in addition to your low back pain, or if you are feeling a type of electrical shock or pins and needles, you probably realize that these are not normal feelings. When this happens, you should stop exercising and see your chiropractor as soon as possible.

What Cardio Can I Do with Lower Back Pain?

What Cardio Can I Do with Lower Back Pain?

Many people ask if it’s OK to run when they have lower back pain. Jogging or running certainly burns more calories than walking, but your back takes a real pounding when you do the former. Walking is a terrific alternative. In fact, one study done in 2012 found that walking a mere 20 minutes twice a week over a 6 week period eased chronic low back pain!

Other back friendly cardio includes low impact aerobics, swimming, yoga, and Tai Chi. There are also a number of exercises that will help strengthen your back and core muscles, so you can perform any task, including exercise, easier and with little or no pain.

Speaking of yoga, don’t forget hot yoga, which helps to warm and loosen up your muscles with little effort. Many people with chronic low back pain say that hot yoga has been a real game changer for them.  

What if I Have Upper Back Pain?

Working out with upper back pain is usually OK, as long as you modify your routine, so you give those shoulders and upper back muscles some time to rest. Work on just stretching your upper back and leave the weights for another day.

Should I lift Weights if I Have Lower Back Hurts?

Should I lift Weights if I Have Lower Back Hurts?

This is a very common question. Believe it or not, lifting weights can help to reduce low back pain, but hold on just a minute! The point isn’t to bulk up, but to develop strength.

Back muscles keep the spine moving and in the correct position. If you have weak back muscles or if you have injured them, you should focus on low weight with repeated reps until your back pain goes away.

If you follow this routine for two weeks and the pain persists, see your chiropractor for a diagnosis and check-up.

Before You Grab Your Car Keys

Be sure to read the 5 reasons you might want to think twice before going to the gym.

Reason #1-You Might Be Causing Serious Damage

You could easily turn a small problem into a much larger one.

Yes, you might have overworked your muscles or maybe you sprained or strained a few muscles, but heading right back into a rigorous workout could turn that pulled muscle into a bulging or herniated disc.

If you just can’t imagine taking a few days off from exercise, at least consider modifying your routine so you don’t aggravate your problem or make it worse.

Reason #2-Your Body Needs Time to Heal

Almost all pain is a sign from your body that it has been damaged in some way. Even if you are simply talking about overworked muscles, those muscles need time to rest and heal.

You won’t lose any of the exercise gains you’ve made if you give yourself 48 hours of rest. You could also consider doing some back-pain exercises at home. Most of these involve stretching, like these, but they can go a long way towards keeping your back limber and allowing it to heal at the same time.

You can take 3 days off now and give your body the time it needs to heal or take 6 weeks off later after you have done some serious damage, such as a herniated disc or torn tendon. The choice is entirely yours.

Reason #3-Your Routine Could Be the Problem

Your Routine Could Be the Problem

Have you considered that your work out routine is the problem? Even if you have been doing the same routine for years, let’s face it, no one is getting younger. Our bodies change over time and we need to adjust right along with them.

This is especially true if you have been through any events that might have changed your body, such as childbirth, surgery, or developed a health problem, such as osteoarthritis.

If you recently began a new routine or began using a new machine, it might be time to reevaluate if this the right choice for you. If you aren’t sure whether your routine might be causing you to injure your back, speak to your chiropractor.

Reason #4-You Could Seriously Up Your Pain Level

If you have had this pain for more than a week or two, and the usual home remedies (ice, heat, rest) haven’t worked, it’s time to stop waiting for the pain to go away. At this point, it probably won’t.

The sooner you see a chiropractor and start a treatment plan, the sooner you will be on the road to healing and the sooner you can return to your normal life, including your usual exercise routine.

By continuing to “grin and bear it”, you could turn a pain level of 4 up to an 8 with very little effort. Think about the last time you wore some shoes that didn’t fit quite right. You might have thought you would just live with it, but that uncomfortable heel slip turned into an ugly, bleeding broken blister pretty quick, didn’t it?

We know, you don’t want to “bother” the chiropractor or take time off of work to look at something that is “no big deal.” Back pain can really limit not only your exercise choices, but your normal activities as well.

Why grit your teeth and suffer with back pain when a qualified chiropractor is as close as a phone call away? Stop waiting and get proactive about your health!

Reason #5-Better Safe Than Sorry

Some people take life by the horns and say to heck with the consequences. This might make a for an exciting life, but if they pay with their health later, you have to ask yourself if it was worth it.

If you would feel better practicing the old adage of “better safe than sorry” it might be in your interest to check things out with your chiropractor first.

Check your chiropractor for neck and back pain

This is especially important if your routine hasn’t really changed, you can’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary (like helping a friend move 3 bedrooms worth of furniture) or any real reason why you should have back pain.

Your back pain might be nothing more than a little overexertion or a little too much sitting, but if a weekend of rest followed by some stretching and light exercise hasn’t helped, you would be wise to check with your chiropractor for a diagnosis.

You might be saving yourself tons of pain, hours of waiting in the emergency room, and keeping a small problem, well…small.

Perhaps one of the best reasons for heading over to the chiropractor’s office is that they can advise you regarding a lower back pain workout plan that will protect your back and prevent any reoccurrence of the pain you are having now.

Stop Looking for That Miracle Cure

If you have chronic back pain, you’ve probably realized by now that there is no “miracle cure.” Those late-night TV commercials offering creams, pills, lotions, or inversion devices all sound great but there is no evidence that these things will do anything more than take your money.

If you have chronic back pain go for chiropractor

If you feel like you can’t work out because of back pain or if you are working out anyway, despite back pain, don’t risk injuring yourself further. At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab we have real treatments that are proven to work, such as the Alaska Back Pain Protocol, which has helped hundreds of people just like you.

Call our office for a same day appointment. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Our friendly staff will be happy to check your insurance for coverage and if you don’t have insurance, read this article before you decide you can’t afford the best in chiropractic care.

Don’t skip your workout, skip out on your back pain by calling our clinic today.

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The portrait of Dr. Brent Wells.

Dr. Brent Wells

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells is an actively practicing chiropractic physician that has personally led over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and Juneau where he brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.

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