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  • Writer's pictureNashville PT

Three potential causes of back pain during your workouts

By Christi Williams, PT, DPT, OCS, Cert. MDT

People often ask what to do to avoid back pain during their workouts. Well, the answer is more complicated than the question, because certain movements or positions will aggravate different back issues for various reasons, depending on what the cause of the back pain is in the first place.

That being said, here are three common movement patterns that can lead to back pain (and what you can do to correct it) during your workout sessions that you may want to keep in mind because if they are not a current cause of back pain, they may end up leading to back pain in the future.

1. Not using your legs when lifting from the floor or when doing squatting exercises


When lifting from the floor you should maintain a neutral spine position and squat with your legs using your legs to bring you into a standing position


When you use your back to lift, you “hinge” more at your hips because you are not bending your knees as much and therefore not squatting as deep. This places excess stress on the spine especially if you allow the back to round out when lifting.

2. Overhead lifting – especially when you have a limitation in shoulder mobility causing a hyperextension in your spine


When lifting overhead, you must have sufficient shoulder mobility to maintain a neutral spine position


When limited in shoulder mobility, a common compensation is to hyperextend the low back

3. Doing core exercises that exceed your core’s ability to maintain a neutral spine


A double leg lift requires a significant amount of core strength to maintain a neutral spine positioning in which the spine stays flattened toward the floor rather than arching upward


Without sufficient core strength, the contraction of the hip flexor muscles during a double leg lift will pull the lumbar spine into an excessive lordodic curvature (arching up). If your core muscles are not strong enough to counter-balance this force, it will result in excessive force placed through the spine.

When you feel yourself becoming too fatigued to perform the exercises you are doing with the proper form, be sure to modify the activity to avoid compensating in a way that causes excess strain to the spine. If you have specific questions about back pain, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are offering social distancing PT evaluations and treatment sessions via telehealth (a virtual visit) at a 33% discount right now (for a limited time)! If you’re not sure about doing a full session, contact us to schedule a consult by visiting our website at or call/text us at 615-428-9213!

For more explanation about this from Christi, check out this video from our YouTube Channel

#backpain #painwithexercise #backpainwithexercise #physicaltherapy #keepingactivepeopleactive #nashvillephysicaltherapy #telehealth #virtualvisit

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