Lower Back Pain During Workouts

low back pain during sports activity

Nearly everyone experiences lower back pain at some point during their life, but for people who experience it during workouts, the pain may prove particularly bothersome. While experiencing mild discomfort during a workout is normal, some people do not know the difference between normal discomfort and pain that is indicative of a potential problem. This article was written to help you differentiate between the two so that you might better address the root issue.

Learning why lower back pain during a workout happens, what it means and how to remedy the problem can help lead to a better workout without lower back pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) points out that back pain differs from one person to the next.

While there are a number of causes, the AAOS says, “One of the more common causes of lower back pain is muscle soreness from over-activity.” While many people experience muscle soreness after working out, others actually experience lower back pain – during the workout.

Over-Ambitious Workouts and Back Pain

One of the problems is that some of us try to do too much, too soon. Those who have not worked out in a long time or who are just starting a workout program should not suddenly start lifting heavy weights or performing strenuous advanced level workout routines. Another factor that can contribute to lower back pain during workouts is what the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke refers to as the “weekend warrior,” who is typically inactive throughout the week, and then engages in strenuous exercise during weekends. The NINDS explains that instead of risking back pain as a weekend warrior, “Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise is beneficial for maintaining the integrity of intervertebral discs.”

Workout beginners or those with medical conditions should check with their doctor first before beginning any workout routine. The workout novice should begin at a slow pace, allowing their body to improve its ability to handle higher levels of training. As the body adapts to new demands, workouts can be gradually increased with new activities or higher levels of training.

Muscle soreness during and after a workout that goes away after several hours is normal. While normal discomfort may include aching in the lower back, sharp, shooting or irritating actual pain is not normal. Lower back pain during a workout is a signal that something is potentially wrong. It s important to take cues from the body, and distinguish between normal discomfort and pain that may be a sign that something is not right.

Paying Attention to Your Body’s Cues

Did you overdo it? The Beginner Triathlete suggests using the Ten Percent Rule. “When beginning a new activity start gradually and build up your time and intensity no more than ten percent per week.” Perhaps the most simplified advice comes from an old joke:

Patient – “Doc, every time I do this, my knee hurts”
Doctor – “Well, don’t do it then!”

Listen to your body and never indulge in any workout activity or routine that causes lower back pain or pain anywhere else in your body.

Experiencing lower back pain while working out may seem frustrating and worrisome, especially since the purpose of a workout is to get in or stay in shape. When discomfort turns to pain or if you suffer actual pain during your workout, you may need to see your doctor.

When to Seek Assistance

If changing certain aspects of your workout does not eliminate the low back pain, call your doctor right away. Your body could be sending you a warning signal that something is not right. It may not even be a workout-related injury. You could have an undiagnosed medical condition that is exacerbated by working out.


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