How not to hurt your back at the gym

Last week I REALLY hurt my back at the gym.  I was in Body Pump, my favorite workout–one that I have been doing for almost 2 years–and after the squat track, I could feel that I had done something to the lower right side of my back.  I shrugged it off at first, but when it came time to lie down on the bench for the chest track, I found that I couldn’t lie flat without pain.  Uh Oh!

I somehow managed to get through the rest of the class and felt OK the rest of the day, but by Sunday, I was hurting so much that I couldn’t stand upright at all.  I spent the weekend hobbling around the house, counting the minutes until Monday morning when I could go see my chiropractor.

I’m all fixed up now, but I thinking back on what I did to get myself into that predicament led me to a few conclusions.  I should mention that I am not a doctor, or even a fitness instructor.  These are just some common sense observations, along with some tips that I have learned from the instructors at my gym on how to stay safe when working out.

How NOT to hurt your back at the gym

How NOT to hurt your back at the gym:

1.  If you feel that something is hurting, it is best to stop that activity to prevent injury.  

The day before this workout, I felt some discomfort in my back while running on the treadmill.  It went away when I stopped running, so I sort of forgot about it.  The following morning, however, when I started doing squats, the pain came back and only got worse the more I continued on.  I should have listened to my body and either lightened up on the weight I was using, or just stopped altogether.

2.  Make sure you use proper form.

Proper form in Pump is called set position.  The instructors at my gym are continually reminding us of proper positioning in order to help us prevent injury.  This allows your body to be in good alignment so that it can function optimally.  Take the time to learn what the proper form is for whatever exercise you are performing.

3.  Tighten your abs.

You wouldn’t think that would matter too much, but it really does make a difference!  I’m guilty of not doing it sometimes…sometimes I’m focused more on squeezing the muscle group that I’m using, or on just breathing in general, that I forget to tighten my core.  Those core muscles help to protect your back, especially when you are lifting a heavy weight.

4.  Rest!

I have to admit, I worry a lot about losing the muscle tone that I’ve worked so hard to develop that I try my hardest not to miss any workouts.  Same with cardio…I’m afraid I’m going to gain some weight or lose my endurance if I skip even one run.  But sometimes your body just needs some time to rest and recover, and when you get back to your routine after a break, you may find that you have more energy or strength to get through it.  I know I do!

Taking all these tips into consideration should help prevent me from injuring myself in the future!

Do you have any helpful hints for staying safe at the gym or recovering from an injury?  Leave me a comment below…I’d love to hear them!


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1 thought on “How not to hurt your back at the gym”

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    I’m glad your feeling better. Back pain is so hard to deal with. My husband has chronic back pain, it’s no fun at all.

    I try my best to avoid injuries but I did injure my knee a few years ago. luckily it was just a soft tissue injury but it too forever to get better. So I’m much more careful with my knee now.

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