How to Treat Low Back Pain with Exercise

Low back pain can be very uncomfortable and limiting. Therefore, it's important to treat it in time to prevent it from getting worse.
How to Treat Low Back Pain with Exercise

Last update: 11 January, 2021

If you like to play sports, it’s also important to know how to address the most common problems that may appear. One of these problems is low back pain caused by exercise, and we can’t ignore it.

Next, we’re going to analyze the main causes of this common pain and how we must deal with it so it doesn’t get worse or become chronic.

Why does low back pain appear from exercise?

In general, playing sports is positive. There are dozens of reasons why we should exercise regularly, and all are important to maintain a good quality of life.

However, as with any sport, physical exercise can also lead to injury. In general, the main reasons for suffering a negative setback from sports are:

  • Overload. Starting a sport and trying to do the same training as someone else that’s been training longer isn’t a good idea. Also, you shouldn’t increase the load or duration of training from one day to the next. In both cases, you don’t give your body enough time to prepare. In this scenario, there’s too much stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other structures. Then, it causes injury.
  • Biomechanical errors. Another way to make mistakes when practicing sports is by doing moves wrong. If you want to learn a sport, you need to learn the technique well, especially when you’re starting out. In fact, a study published by The American Journal of Sports Medicine talks about this. It’s important to exercise in the safest way possible.
  • Wrong equipment. Running with the wrong shoes, skiing with boots or skis that are too big, or not putting bandages on your knuckles for boxing are examples of not using equipment correctly.
  • Not varying activities. If you play one single sport too often and don’t do any other type of exercise, you could get hurt. It’s important to give your body other stimuli, which work the body in different ways.
A woman with low back pain.

Other factors may also play a role. For example, the most common include running on hard surfaces, thinking about other things, and not focusing on the sport itself. In any case, not resting is one of the most common mistakes that can result in low back pain.

Treatment of low back pain caused by exercise

If despite having complied with the guidelines we mentioned, you overexerted yourself or practiced something incorrectly and your lower back hurts… what do you do now?

The first is the most obvious, don’t expose your body to the same exercise at the same intensity. You need to spend a few days doing very gentle exercises, like walking or low-impact aerobic work.

Also, it’s important to lower the amount of exercise you do. Be careful, don’t stop exercising entirely, since that would be counterproductive. Simply walking a few times a day is already very beneficial.

Secondly, if it’s a new pain, you can apply ice to the area. If you’ve had the pain for two days or more, you should apply heat.

In the longer term, maintaining good posture is key. In the chair, sofa, bed, car, when lifting objects… make sure to take into account all of the advice on posture that you can.

Similarly, there’s also the option of going to a physical therapistThis professional will be able to do tests to see if the pain is just muscular, or if other structures are affected. Then, they’ll add massages, stretching, or analgesic techniques to help you recover quickly.

A man with back and neck pain.

Finally, you must remember the importance of doing activities from other disciplines, in addition to your favorite. In more advanced stages of recovery, this will help your body get back to normal. Additionally, it’ll also prevent relapses.

A common but dangerous injury

Low back pain caused by sports isn’t something you should ignore. When suffering from this pathology, it’s important to get the right treatment and correct harmful behaviors. Otherwise, not only will your current state worsen, but you’ll be prone to pain more often.

Finally, we should clarify that we’ve talked about mild pain mainly related to the muscular system. You might have pain that lasts over time, is very intense, or doesn’t respond to the treatments we mentioned above. In this case, you must go to a health center to have the right tests.

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  • G. Andersson. Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. The Lancet. Volume 354, Issue 9178, 14 August 1999, Pages 581-585
  • M. Hangai, K. Kaneoka, Y. Okubo, et al. Relationship between Low Back Pain and Competitive Sports Activities during Youth. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol 38, Issue 4, 2010
  • P. Noormohammadpour, M. Rostami, M. Mansournia, et al. Low back pain status of female university students in relation to different sport activities. European Spine Journal. Volume 25, Pages 1196–1203, 2016