Thursday, June 18, 2009

Watch Your Back

I recently read an article on there on the interwebs that stated something to the effect of: if you lift heavy weights, eventually, no matter how careful you are, you're going to get injured.  Well, yours truly found this out the hard way this past week, in the form of muscle strain in my lower back.

Don't Let This Happen To You...

According to WebMD, there are a myriad of things that can cause lower back pain, including "playing sports or working in the yard, being jolted in a car accident, or lifting something too heavy."  Since I'm not a member of any sports teams, don't have a yard, and haven't been in any ten-car pile-ups lately, I think we can all guess where this is headed...

I lifted too much weight.

Where I Went Oh So Wrong

A few weeks ago, my wife and I did a 5-rep max out to see where we stood on five different core lifts.  One of those lifts, to get an idea of leg strength, was leg press.  Well, I was pretty impressed with myself, pressing around 320 lbs for five solid reps.  Unfortunately, I also got a little full of myself, and decided to try that weight as my workout the next week.  Wow was that a mistake.  It turns out that, while my legs were perfectly ready to take on that challenge, my lower back was not, and now I groan like an 80-year-old every time I stand up.  Take it from me, trying to work your max as your workout weight is a dumb, dumb idea, ladies and gentlemen.

Do What the Web-Doc Orders

WebMD's section on lower back pain is a wealth of information, ranging from what causes lower back pain (duh... heavy lifting), to what symptoms to watch out for that could be a sign of more serious problems (no chest pain here, and I only lose bowel and bladder control during deadlifts, I swear it!), to what to do to ease the pain while your abused muscles repair themselves.  I've opted for the over-the-counter-pain-med-and-resting-myself treatment.  And while I've still been hitting the gym, I haven't been able to put in nearly the effort I usually do.

Do As I Say, etc, etc...

So you know the saying...  learn from my mistakes.  I certainly will!  Lifting appropriate weight with good form is always preferable to lying on the couch with pillows under your knees.  Not only will it keep you in the gym, it'll also keep you from looking, sounding, and feeling like an old lady.


  1. you're right, lifting the appropriate weight and ensuring good form is a must. but also, when you're lifting, make sure that your abs are tight to protect your lower back (i tell my clients to suck their navel in towards their spine). that is a key element when working out. also, add more core exercises to your workout to strengthen your lower back/abs. lower back issues usually comes as a result of weak abs.

  2. You're absolutely right... this is fantastic advice, and something that is easy to forget when you're in the midst of things. Believe me, it's a mistake I won't be making again for a long, long time! Thanks a bunch for your words of wisdom!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment.

    I injured my back while pregnant once and believe me I would do most anything to avoid that again. (no muscle relaxers, no laying on your back - it is a bad idea while pregnant, it even got to where doing my back exercises became impossible due to expanding belly syndrome)

    Watch your back is good advice indead.