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6 Back Safety Tips While You Lift Weights

Man attempting to lift a very heavy barbell

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It’s recommended to do a mixture of both cardio and weight training for optimal results.

When people first start out with strength training workout routine, it’s not uncommon for them to get injured or experience back pain.

Wondering how you can avoid that annoying backache?

Here are six fantastic workout tips that will help you keep your back safe while you lift weights.

1. Pay Attention to Your Form

When you’re lifting weights, monitoring your form is one of the most important things you can do to avoid injury.

Keep your back straight at all times, no matter what you’re lifting. You can bend at the hip and still maintain a straight back. This helps you engage the supportive muscles in your core and legs, reducing the risk of injury and muscle strain.

Allowing your shoulders to slouch lets your spine curve. When you lift anything with a curved spine, you put a strain on your muscles and vertebrae.

If you’re not comfortable with monitoring your own form, work out with a friend or schedule a session with a personal trainer.

When others are not around to help you switch to working out on weight machines instead of using free weights. These machines help keep your body in proper alignment and make it much harder to put a strain on your back and spine.

2. Remember to Breathe

As you lift, it’s tempting to hold your breath. Why? Because it makes each lift feel more effective or makes you feel like you can lift heavier amounts. Sometimes you don’t even know you are holding your breath.

Unfortunately, holding your breath won’t help your workout. Instead, it hurts it! Your muscles depend on that oxygen to work properly.

When you stop breathing regularly, even for short bursts while lifting, it makes your muscles tense up. Tight muscles are more vulnerable to strain and injury.

Also, when you forget to breathe, you can’t focus on maintaining good posture and form.

Luckily, there’s an easy breathing pattern to follow. And after a few workouts, it’ll start to become second nature.

Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower or release the weight. Repeat this cycle for every repetition.

This will help you get the most out of your workout without starving your muscles of the oxygen they need to perform.

3. Start With Smaller Weights

It’s a common misconception that if you can lift incredibly heavy weights, you’re incredibly strong.

In truth, you’re only as strong as your back. And that strength takes time to build.

Instead of trying to lift as much as you can, start with lighter weights.

Light weights and more repetitions work your muscles just as well as heavy weights, just without the increased risk of muscle strain.

You’ll be able to work out more frequently and for longer periods of time without injuring yourself or battling against excessive soreness.

Over time and after you master good form when lifting, you can start to increase weights. Make sure to do it gradually. This will keep your back safe and help you continue to work out regularly without having to take time off due to an injury.

4. Stop if It Hurts

There’s an old-school approach to weightlifting and working out that requires you to push through the pain. How many times have you heard the saying “no pain, no gain?”

This is not only wrong-it could be dangerous.

The key to any successful workout routine is listening to what your body tells you. If it hurts, stop what you’re doing and evaluate what happened.

Maybe it was a strange twist. Perhaps you lifted more than you should have.

No matter what caused the pain, don’t push through it. Address it.

If you need to take a break, stop and let your body recover. Working out with a sore back often leads you to embrace bad form. Worse, it can derail your progress.

For severe pain, ice the area immediately. This reduces swelling and helps your body repair the damage more quickly.

If the pain does not go away after a few days, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. The last thing you want is to make an injury worse by ignoring it.

5. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch

As we said before, tight muscles are at higher risk of injury. The easiest way to avoid this is to stretch both before and after your workout.

Before your workout, start by warming up your muscles. Take a five or ten-minute walk on the treadmill or ride the stationary bike for ten minutes to get the blood flowing.

The point is not to get your heart rate up, but to get your muscles loose and ready for the workout.

Once your muscles are warmed up, spend a few minutes stretching your arms and legs. The looser your muscles are, the more you’ll get out of the workout and the safer your back will be.

After lifting weights, get back on that treadmill or stationary bike and let yourself cool down.

This will give your muscles a bit of a rest and helps keep them loose after an intense weight lifting session.

Once you’re cooled down, stretch your muscles again. This reduces soreness, speeds recovery, and makes it easier for you to maintain good posture after your workout.

6. Don’t Overdo It!

When you’re making gains, it’s tempting to head to the gym and run through your strength training workout every day.

This is almost always a bad idea.

Just like lifting too much weight, working out too often puts unnecessary strain on your back, your joints, and your muscles. You need time to recover after a workout.

When you lift weights, your muscles get microscopic tears. Once these tears heal, your muscles are stronger and, in some cases, bigger.

Overdoing and working out too often means those tears can’t heal.

It’s best to let your muscles rest for at least a day between weight training days. You can still exercise, but try to focus on cardio, stretching, and general movement instead.

Hurting After You Lift Weights?

Soreness may be normal, but back pain after lifting weights is something no one should have to cope with.

If you’re hurting or the pain just won’t go away, contact us to schedule a consultation as soon as possible. Back pain shouldn’t control your life and keep you from enjoying your workout.

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