If your back is in pain or you’ve recently undergone a procedure for back pain, you may not know if lifting weights is a good idea or not. Always ask the spine medicine experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) before you begin or resume any exercise regimen. Lifting weights with a bad back is possible, as long as you’re careful. Give yourself time while focusing on small successes.
It’s best to start with a lesser weight than you’re accustomed to. When you have a bad back, lifting weights means you have to go out of your way not to hurt yourself further. Meanwhile, add to your core, leg and arm strength by performing reps that focus on those parts of your body. Building strength for your entire body also increases the strength of your back.
The Safest Start to Lifting Weights with a Bad Back
Lightweight hand weights are best for starting out. You must be able to do 12 repetitions rather easily. If you can’t do 12 reps, choose a lighter weight. Work your way slowly to heavier weights.
Start with one set of 12 reps. Then see if you can do it twice with a short rest in between. Build up your routine to multiple sets of 12, so you work your muscle group to fatigue. You may notice that as you repeat your reps and repeat your routines, your strength increases and you feel better about your workout choices.
A Weight-Lifting Regimen to Protect Your Back
Find a weight training routine that works best for your daily calendar. Design it for total body health while moving toward a stronger back over time. Stay consistent; try for 20-to-30-minute sessions, two to three times a week. Set a goal for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of lifting weights with a bad back, you’ll have:
- Improved energy
- Increased muscle tone
- More satisfied outlook from less worry about pain
- Overall increased body strength
- Better self-confidence
- Healthy exercise routines embedded into your lifestyle
- Stronger back muscles
In time, you’ll feel better and achieve your goals. Lifting weights with a bad back is possible, but you must work up to heavier weights in incremental amounts. Stop lifting any time you feel pain, a twinge or any discomfort. Consult a physical therapist or a trainer who knows how to protect your back when exercising. Find the best physical therapists for back recommendations at SSI.
Stay Safe and Work Toward a Goal
Keep in mind that sometimes less is more when you’re lifting weights with a bad back. It’s much better to develop a practice that allows you to improve than re-injuring your back or undoing all the healing you’ve achieved. Remember to:
- Work all major muscle groups
- Start with larger muscles
- Always include opposing muscle groups: for example, work both your arms
- Balance your workout between your upper body and lower body
- Lift slowly and smoothly to a four-count beat up and four-count beat down
- Do not fully straighten your knees or elbows
- Breath out when lifting; breath in when lowering
- Keep to your allotted time schedule
In addition to trainers, medical doctors and physical therapists can guide you in your choices. Call your doctor if you have any questions about increasing your weight training ahead of schedule. Maintain all follow-up appointments so your doctor can monitor your progress. Call 866-774-6350 for peace of mind and to keep your back healthy and strong.