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Weightlifting Back Pain

Joe Fleming identifies the ten mistakes that cause back pain while weightlifting and how to correct them.

Many people assume that pain is an unavoidable part of the equation when you are hitting the gym hard and lifting weights. While some soreness is standard and not particularly problematic, actual pain is cause for concern. It is especially true of back pain.

If you are experiencing back pain during or after lifting weights, you must figure out the root cause of that pain. Ignoring it and hoping it goes away will not do you any favours now or later on.

In many cases, weightlifting-related back pain is brought on by poor form or other mistakes. The following are ten common mistakes that might be the reason for your back pain.

Not Working Your Core

Research shows that weak core muscles -- the muscles that make up the torso and extend from the sternum to the glutes can worsen back pain. A softcore is especially problematic when you are lifting weights. .

If you are not engaging those muscles and supporting your spine correctly while doing exercises like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses, you are setting yourself up for back pain.

Core-strengthening exercises like planks, bird dogs, and hanging leg raises are efficient. But, it is not enough to do these exercises. It is also important to time them appropriately.

Not Warming Up Before Workouts

Another mistake many people make when lifting weights is neglecting their warm-up. A thorough warm-up helps increase your body temperature and prime your muscles for the movements you will perform during your workout.

Make sure the stretches you do during your warm-up are dynamic, meaning you are continuously moving your limbs through a full range of motion.

Good dynamic stretches include bodyweight squats, side-to-side walks with a resistance loop, and cat-cow stretches.

Static stretching (holding one stretch for an extended period) is best reserved for after your workout when you are ready to cool down.

Not Bracing the Shoulders

If your shoulders are loose and unstable while lifting heavy weights and doing exercises like bench presses, your upper back is likely to round, and you are more likely to experience pain in your upper back.

Excessive rounding and pressure on your upper back can, in some cases, lead to bulging or herniated discs.

Think about pulling your shoulders back and pushing your shoulder blades down before doing heavy lifts. This allows you to engage your lats (the muscles on the sides of the torso under the armpits) and support the shoulders and muscles of the upper back.

Hyperextending Your Back

When you do exercises like squats and deadlifts, it is important to ensure your lower back is not hyperextended (meaning you have a larger-than-usual arch).

When you lift weights with a hyperextended lower back, you put too much stress on that portion of your spine. This, in turn, can lead to lower back stiffness and pain. You can even cause stress fractures and arthritic changes.

To avoid hyperextending your back while performing these exercises, squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. It will ensure your pelvis stays neutral.

Transitioning Inappropriately Between Exercises

It is essential to pay attention to the way how you move while performing various exercises. But, it is also important to pay attention to how you move in between exercises. You can just as easily hurt your back while racking or re-racking your weights while lifting them.

Make sure you are bracing your core and practicing good form when you lift plates, put them on the bar, or take them off. It would help if you especially made this a priority when you are finished doing heavy lifts and feel tired from your workouts.

Forgetting to Move in Between Workouts

If the only time you move is in the gym, you could be setting yourself up for back pain during and outside of your workouts.

Regular activity is essential for keeping the spine healthy and mobile. If you are sedentary all day and only move for an hour at the gym, you will struggle with stiffness, pain, and potential injuries.

Lifting with Bad Posture

Most people walk around all day with bad posture. Scared shoulders and forward heads are becoming increasingly common between staring down at their phones and slouching over their computers.

If you have bad posture all day long, you will carry that bad posture into the gym during your workouts. Bad posture in the gym is not just unsightly; it can also put a lot of strain on your back muscles and soft tissues.

Wearing posture correctors or comfortable braces for upper back pain can help you figure out how sitting or standing up straight feels. With a bit of practice, you will be able to adjust your posture and get through your workouts with less pain and discomfort.

Overdoing the Same Exercises

If you do the same exercises repeatedly and do not give yourself adequate rest in between, you could end up dealing with repetitive strain injuries.

These injuries come on gradually but can eventually lead to chronic pain and stiffness. Stick to a balanced exercise routine that switches up your movements regularly.

Progressing too Quickly

While it is important to continue challenging yourself if you want to see progress during your workouts, it is also essential to avoid progressing too quickly.

Lifting heavier weights than you can handle or knocking out too many reps is not suitable for your back (or any other part of your body) and could sideline you from your workouts.

Neglecting Post-Workout Stretching

Finally, static stretching after a workout can help reduce muscle soreness and tension and prevent aches and pains that might show up the next day.

If you have an existing injury, you are also less likely to aggravate it by doing static stretches after your workout since your muscles will already be warm.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FLEMING, J. (2018) Weightlifting Back Pain [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. To inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health, and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces, and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.