We have a lot of family members and patients ask us what they can do to prevent back pain. While it depends on the cause of pain, we generally advise that they can ward off back pain with exercise and proper posture.
Believe it or not, one of the best forms of exercise to help prevent back pain and injury is weight training. When done properly, weight training can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, making you much less likely to strain your back. While your goal may be to specifically strengthen your back, abdominal, and hamstring muscles, you cannot solely focus on those muscle groups. Doing so may lead to imbalances in your musculature and result in other areas of pain.
Tips for staying safe
If done incorrectly, weight training can quickly lead to back pain and injury. To avoid that happening to you, keep the tips below in mind.
- Always practice proper form. If you are uncertain of the proper form, please consult an expert or a personal trainer at your gym.
- Focus on slow and steady resistance training, avoiding any jerky or sudden movements.
- Start with a light amount of weight. When you feel comfortable performing the exercise at that weight, challenge yourself by slowly increasing the weight or amount of repetitions.
- Never skip warming up or cooling down.
Below are two exercises to try if you’re specifically looking to strengthen your spine. Add them to your current workout and perform them up to 2 times per week, completing 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions each time.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Find a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side. Position your right leg and right hand on top of the bench. Use your left hand to pick the dumbbell off the floor and hold it while keeping your back straight. Pull the dumbbell up to the side of your body, keeping your upper arm close to your side and your torso stationary. Then, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Perform this movement 10-15 times before switching sides. After completing the exercise on both sides, rest before repeating it 1-2 more times.
Start by getting into the pushup position and dropping onto your forearms, making sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Keeping your core muscles tight, make sure your entire body forms a straight line. Hold the position for as long as you can before resting and repeating the exercise 1-2 additional times.
To ward off back pain with exercise, it is important to be consistent. Starting out, we recommend you only work out 2-3 times per week and increase from there. As always, it’s best to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise regime.