4 Tips for Weight Lifting After a Back Injury

Category: Back Pain, Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

weight lifting after back injury

Back injuries can force you off your feet for a few days, and avoiding physical activity can be difficult if you like to hit the gym 3-4 times a week. We’ve explained how physical activity can be help spur recovery after a back injury, but if you try to do too much too soon, you can really mess up your spine. We know how important it is for you to get your daily exercise in, so we’re going to share a few tips that will help you stay healthy when returning to weightlifting after a spine injury.

Give Yourself a Few Days Off

If you suffer an acute back injury, or you just wake up one morning with shooting back pain, skip the gym for a day or two. Trying to push through the pain is quickest way to exacerbate an injury. Giving yourself 2-3 days off is better than trying to power through an injury, making it worse, and being unable to lift for weeks or months.


If you’re taking a few days off from the gym because of a back injury, you should still find time to stretch your spine and the related areas. Again, don’t overdo it, and stop stretching if pain becomes intense. You’ll probably deal with some discomfort, but stretching can help loosen up some of those tightened areas that are causing pain. Stretching is also very important when you get to the gym. Don’t just jump on a machine; take 5-10 minutes to warm up before you begin.

Low-Impact Exercises

These will be your best friend upon your return to the gym. The urge to go through your normal set will linger, but see how your back responds to activity before you step up the intensity. Activities like lunges, seated rows, cycling, swimming, pull-ups and pushups are great exercises that work your body without overloading your spine.

Avoid Over-The-Head Lifts

Any lift that involves pushing weight above your head is going to put enormous stress on your spine. Dumbbell presses and deadlifts should be avoided until your back pain has resolved, and you should consider starting with lighter weights and slowly working up to your normal amount. Squats are also another lift to avoid if you have a back injury. Not only does the exercise put a lot of force on your spine, but any discomfort can affect your squatting technique. If your technique if affected and you are using incorrect form, you’re more likely to hurt your back or another part of your body.

If you’re dealing with a spine injury and you’re itching to get back in the gym, consider consulting with a spine specialist. Your doctor can tell you if exercise is safe, which exercises to avoid and how to treat your injury before and after the gym.

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