Back pain due to working out is very common. It is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t sort of relationships. For example when thinking of someone suffering from low back pain we would imagine a person that lives a sedentary lifestyle, eats poor and probably spends a majority of their day hunched over a computer. However, if you are an avid exerciser you are not exempt from back pain or injuries. In fact, many of those who lift weights suffer from back pain with the most common area being the lumbar spine (low back).
Back pain can be crippling and restrict many activities of daily living and lead to missed days at the gym, and we all know that is heart breaking news for bodybuilders. Back pain can range from occasional twinges to chronic long lasting pain.
What is it about bodybuilding that can lead to such severe and crippling back pain? Well, to begin one’s idea of what bodybuilding is needs to be addressed. The goal should not be to get as big as you can but to build a balanced body that is as strong as possible in every single way. Have you ever seen someone that can lift greater than 350lbs but is unable to do more than fifty pushups? So how does one achieve this overall body strength? By working out antagonistic muscles, i.e opposing muscles.
It is important to balance the forces on the spine. Work opposite muscles to equalize the strength therefore equalizing the forces on the spine. The exercises you choose and how you perform them are very important to determining your strength, flexibility and whether or not you suffer from aches and injuries.
Some of you may be shocked to read what exercises are actually the biggest contributors to back pain. So here it is people” bench presses, leg extensions, deadlifts, military presses and lunges. Basically the key ones you are doing on a daily bases. But don’t be scared.Tthis does not mean you have to eliminate them. We just need to make sure the opposing muscles to these exercises are also worked.
To give you a better understanding about the importance of this and why I am emphasizing opposing muscles, I’m going to focus on two of these exercises: bench press and leg extension. Both of these exercise muscles that are commonly used in your typical everyday activities, therefore are often prone to being overdeveloped. Chronic bench pressing and little target placed on the upper back can cause the chest to become overdeveloped and upper back to be weak. This leads to the hunched or turtle-back look where the shoulders are rolled in. This posture results in the chest muscles to be in a state of constant contraction and the upper back muscles to become over-stretched. Leg extensions are not only hard on the knees but can lead to overdeveloped quads and weak/tight hamstrings. In summary focusing too much on the above listed exercises ends up creating muscle imbalances, or worsen existing imbalances. This in turn causes pulling of bones and joints out of their normal alignment. So what should be done to correct or prevent all this?
It’s time to start focusing on the “weaklings”, and by this I don’t mean the muscle groups that you think you are weak in. I mean the muscles you probably never work out. For example, shoulder rotators, hamstrings, glutes, hip rotators, lower abs, shins, the core stabilizers, obliques, transervus, rectus, psoas, quadratus lumborum, and to prevent low back pain the paraspinals. If you don’t work these “weaklings” or injure yourself working out it can land you in a chiropractic office.
A very simple definition of chiropractic care is that it is a complementary health care discipline which places emphasis on recognizing and treating mechanical disorders associated with the musculoskeletal system, more commonly in the spine with the goal of improved health via stimulating the nervous system.
Chiropractic care has been proven with great research as being a safe and effective treatment method to reduce or eliminate back pain. When I work with my patients who are bodybuilders or avid athletes, we work together to find which joints and muscles are affected. We target the weak muscles and stretch and relax the overworked muscles in conjunction with correcting any joint misalignments. A key emphasis is also placed on posture, diet and proper techniques. Chiropractic care is not limited to just the back we treat many non spinal related injuries as well such as elbow, knee and shoulder pain to name a few.
So remember bodybuilding is a sport that involves making your body proportionally shaped and fit. It is about great physical health.