To Avoid Back Injuries Don't Do These Five Things When You Start Weightlifting

Posted on: 21 February 2017

Weightlifting can be hard on your back, but with the right precautions, this workout can be rewarding and strength-building without leading to any sports injuries. Wondering what you should avoid to protect your back? Here are five things new weight lifters should not do.

1. Don't start with the most  dangerous moves.

There are a lot of different options when you start weight lifting, and to be on the safe side, you may want to avoid some of the most risky moves until you are a bit more experienced. These moves may include clear-and-jerks, deadlifts, squats, and other lifts focused on heavy weights rather than small weights and repetition.

Instead, consider starting with simple exercises such as pull-ups, working with hand weights, or using weight lifting machines. This approach allows you to strengthen your muscles and get used to proper form before you start working with really heavy weights.

2. Don't lift on your own.

When you're ready to lift really heavy weights and even while you're working up to that point, don't workout on your own. To be on the safe side, you may want to work with a trainer. They can help you understand how to lift with the right form to minimise the risk of straining your back.

You should also use a spotter. This is especially important when working with really heavy weights. For example, if you are benchpressing, a spotter can help ensure you don't drop the weight on yourself. Similarly, if you are doing a deadlift, a spotter can help keep you in the proper form by resting a hand gently on your lower back near your shoulder. In other cases, they can help to keep the area clear so that you can focus on the weight.

3. Don't start with weights.

Before you try your first deadlift or other potentially back-straining lift, use the barbell on its own. This allows you to work through the proper form and memorise it before you start working with weights. If you lift at the gym and want to reserve that time for working with weights, you can practise form at home with a broomstick.

4. Don't forget the belt.

Wearing a weightlifting belt doesn't necessarily protect you from back injuries. As a result, you need to ensure that your belt doesn't lure you into a false sense of confidence. For example, wearing a belt won't protect your back from strains if you completely forget to use your legs and just lift with your back.

However, weightlifting belts can be essential at reminding you to maintain proper form. In essence, a weightlifting belt is like a trainer's hand on your lower back. It reminds you to stay straight through your core. If possible, wear a belt while lifting — just remember that it works as a reminder to maintain form, not as a strict injury prevention tool.

5. Don't ignore strains.

If your body says "no" while you are lifting, you need to listen to it. Don't lift through the pain. If you feel back aches or strains after your workouts, don't ignore them. Instead, rest your back and don't lift again until the pain is gone.

Note that in most cases, the post-workout tingles you get when your muscles are rebuilding themselves do not feel the same as a back injury. The former is tingly and sore, while the latter often involves shooting pains or pain that gets worse with movement.  If you have a history of back issues such as degenerative discs, you may even want to consult with a specialist before you even start lifting.

If you have more questions about how to protect your back while weight lifting or doing other sports, contact a sports injury specialist.