Weight Lifting and Back Pain

Strengthening Exercises for Your Spine

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It may seem counterintuitive, but weight lifting and strengthening exercises can actually help reduce back pain. However, the point isn't to bulk up your muscles like a body builder—it's to develop strength, especially back strength.

The muscles in your back help keep your spine moving as it should. If you have a weak back or weak abdominal muscles, you could be more prone to back strain. Strong, healthy back muscles are also important because they're associated with your posture. And in some cases, chronic back pain is a result of poor posture.

But focusing on strengthening only one part of the body, such as your back, isn't enough. It's crucial to strengthen other parts of your body, too, including your core and leg muscles. Overall body strength can lead to less back pain and can help you perform daily activities, such as lifting, better.

woman lifting small weights while seated

There are many other reasons why weight lifting and strengthening exercises are beneficial, but the most important reasons are that they:

  • decrease the likelihood of future back injuries
  • help stabilize your spine, allowing your spine to move as it should and also making it easier to maintain proper posture
  • increase muscle tone
  • teach you good body mechanics
  • help build bone—a significant benefit for people who have osteoporosis or are at risk for developing it

You can work with a personal trainer to get started. A personal trainer can teach you simple, specific weight lifting and strengthening exercises. You can also work with a physical therapist. He or she can develop a customized weight lifting program for good back health and prescribe specific exercises to reduce your pain.

For the best results, you'll need to incorporate a mixture of weight lifting (using actual weights and exercise machines) and strengthening exercises (using your own body weight as resistance) to maintain a healthy back.

Updated on: 11/14/17
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Tai Chi: Harnessing the Power of Body and Mind to Combat Back Pain
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Tai Chi: Harnessing the Power of Body and Mind to Combat Back Pain

"In 2009, I had back pain for a long time. I tried many types of therapy, but nothing worked. My friend said, ‘Try tai chi, it is a gentle exercise.’ I refused at first because my back was sore, but eventually I tried it." It helped relieve my back pain.
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