Imagine this, you are a perfectly healthy adult. You workout 4 times a week, you pay attention to what you eat, but something always comes up that knocks you off track and away from your goals.
This time you bent over to pick up a laundry basket, nothing crazy - after all the day before was deadlift day and you hit a PR, but you you stand up and you feel that familiar twinge.....back pain. You think to yourself "Oh, no! This is going to knock me out of the gym for 3 weeks and I was just hitting my stride!".
So you start to ask around....."Is it safe to workout with back pain?".
The short answer is yes, it is safe.
The long answer is, it is complicated.
Pain is really just your body's way of sounding the fire alarm. Put differently, it alerts your body to potential danger. Pain DOES NOT mean that you have tissue damage or an "injury". However, it means you may be headed down that path.
So what do you do?
Well, first, make sure that you don't stop moving. Movement is medicine, and motion is lotion. If you feel some back pain and your immediate reaction is to sit down on the couch you're in for a rough few days. Second, it may be in your best interest to get checked out by a qualified professional just to make sure that you aren't actually dealing with any damage.
The thing is that just because you have back pain doesn't mean you should be afraid. You might do an internet search and start to see things like disc herniation. sciatica, or spinal stenosis. Yea, it is possible that you may have some of these things, but it doesn't mean that you can't workout or get in some good exercise.
With all that said, the day after your back is tweaking I wouldn't go for a max effort squat or deadlift. Instead I would turn the focus of your exercise routine towards mobility of the hips and upper back, and stability of the lower back. Also, it doesn't mean that you can't touch a weight. In fact, there are many movement patterns that may still be pain free even if you have some back pain. If you continue to train those you can get yourself back to 100% quicker than if you did nothing.
This is really the foundation of what I do at Mindful Movement.......after all I didn't pick the name haphazardly.
I employ a holistic approach and look at the entire body and examine to see where the REAL problem is. Just because your back is what's hurting doesn't mean that that is what needs to be addressed. I can't tell you how many times someone comes in for back pain, but their hips look like they just got back from a trip to Oz and didn't find an oil can.
The goal is always to keep you moving, and to help you work towards your goal. After all, you really just want to prevent the back pain from coming back, get back into the gym to continue training, or if you're in the middle of a flare up right now, put the flames out so you can feel like yourself again.
If you're looking for something quick that you can do TODAY I have compiled "the 3 best exercises for the adult athlete with back pain"......you can download it here.
When you work with us, everything is personalized to your body and your goals.