Back pain is a common affliction that many people will experience in their lives and unlike common belief, it’s not something only reserved for aging. Back pain can affect anyone at any given age, regardless of whether you are fit or not. In fact, back pain can even be experienced by fitness enthusiasts.
Back pain is literally a pain in the backside and can be the silent killer in your fitness progress. Let us take a look at back pain in fitness, how it can hinder your progress and what we can do to relieve and prevent it.
What is back pain?
Back pain is pain that is located in your back by your spine and can range from a dull ache to shooting pains. Back pain can be classified by where it occurs in the spine and consists of three types of pain being:
- Lower/Lumbar Back Pain
- Middle Back Pain
- Upper/Thoracic Back Pain
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is also known as lumbar back pain is a commonly felt back pain and affects 80% of adults. This pain targets the area at the bottom of your ribs to the top of your butt. This pain is a common pain that can be brought on and aggravated by exercise.
Middle Back Pain
Middle back pain is pain felt in the middle of your back in the region of your ribs. It can be confused for upper back pain but it doesn’t refer to any pain above your ribs.
This pain can be commonly felt due to pregnancy, weight gain, physical inactivity, anxiety, and smoking.
Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain is also known as thoracic back pain refers to pain in the upper region of your back that begins from the top of the ribcage and spans to the start of your neck vertebrae.
Compared to lower and middle back pain, the causes of upper back pain range from poor posture, arthritis, and an injury from an accident.
Back Pain In Fitness
Back pain can significantly affect your fitness routine and inhibit you from achieving your fitness goals however your fitness regime can be the cause as well as a reliever of back pain.
Warming up and stretching
Warming up and stretching may be viewed for the walkers. To be a serious fitness enthusiast some believe that it involves not warming up or stretching, however it is the one thing that should be done by everyone, from the walker to the serious gym bunny who aspired to look like hulk.
Warming up and stretching, warms the muscles and reduces any tension, this helps to promote flexibility enabling you to achieve better motion during your exercise regimen. Stretching is best done before and after exercise, where you can increase your flexibility before working out and stretching after to reduce tension and stiffness afterward.
A lack of stretching and warming up can reduce the flexibility and increase the tension in the muscle increasing the risk of muscle pain. On the other hand stretching and warming can help to prevent pain and relieve it.
Form is crucial to your exercise regime; if it is incorrect, it can cause strain and injuries. If you are new to having a fitness regime, it is handy to look at your form in the mirror if there is one, if there isn’t one you can always ask a friend to check your form. Having a coach can also help to teach you the correct form and to keep you accountable for maintaining the correct form.
Whilst improper form can cause pain once the form is corrected, it can relieve the pressure on your back and any pain that is being felt.
Lifting weights can make you look and feel cool but just because they look good don’t go eager beaver and lift the heaviest weights you can find. Lifting weight before you are ready can cause strain as well as improper form and can both result in back pain and injury.
If you are starting out with your fitness regime, start slowly and increase slowly and steadily. This will help increase your strength, prepare you for heavier weights in the future and teach you proper form.
Being inactive whilst sometimes does sound appealing, can actually lead to more aches and pain. Inactivity can result in a loss of muscle resulting in your back lacking the support it needs from your muscles in the body.
Your back is supported by three types of muscles, extensor, flexor, and oblique muscles. Extensor muscles are attached to the back of your body and help us to stand and lift objects. These muscles also include your glute muscles. Flexor muscles are attached to the front of your spine and help you bend and arch your back, these muscles are your core muscles. Oblique muscles are attached to the sides of our spine and help us with rotation and posture.
If you do have back pain, being inactive may not be the answer. Instead, exercises strengthening these muscles can help relieve the pain. If you do have back pain or a back injury it is helpful to see a healthcare professional who can help guide you on the correct exercises to do.
Additional Treatments For Back Pain
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, back pain just doesn’t seem to go away. If your back pain persists or the pain is paired with fever, deformities arising on your back, chest pain, or a numbing or tingling feeling, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional.
Common medical treatment for back pain includes pain relief medication, muscle relaxants, and steroids. These steroids are not the steroid that you may be thinking of and include the commonly used corticosteroids. How steroids are taken depends on the steroid being used. Corticosteroids are generally given through oral administration or injection.
Having a fitness regime is vital to your health and for the strength of your muscles. Making progress in your fitness journey is an exciting prospect and to help prevent the chance of back pain stealing your fitness dreams, check your form, increase slowly and steadily and seek professional support if needed.
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