No one is immune from back pain, whether you lead an inactive life that involves watching television and “vegging out” or if you hit the gym every day in an effort to perfect your body. In fact those who are most physically active–athletes and bodybuilders–are perhaps more susceptible to back pain that can take you out of the gym for weeks at a time.
Bodybuilders in particular may be performing exercises that contribute to back pain. By avoiding these exercises you can improve your bodybuilding results and avoid pain in key areas.
Before we go further it is important to have a proper understanding of what bodybuilding is and is not. Bodybuilding is not about building up gigantic muscles, at least not for the majority of bodybuilders, but rather the goal of bodybuilding is to build all the muscles in the body to improve overall strength. This goal often leads some bodybuilders to overdo it and end up with abnormally large bodies.
In fact you may notice some incredibly huge men and women at the gym who can’t perform basic physical tasks such as push-ups or pull ups.
So what are these bodybuilding “sins” and how can we avoid them?
Sin #1 — Wrong Exercises
This is a common pitfall that many physically active people fall into in their effort to sculpt their bodies into shape. But bodybuilders often focus on exercises that work parts of the body that get more than their fair share of use on a regular basis. For example, activities like walking, bending and twisting work the back and legs yet bodybuilders insist on working these muscles even more with exercises like leg extensions and bench presses.
By working on muscles that are already overworked and overdeveloped can only lead to back pain, which will sideline your efforts in the gym.
Sin #2 — Targeted Exercises
Again this isn’t a sin committed just by bodybuilders but their goals simply require greater focus. Targeted exercises, it is believed, will help you increase the strength and muscle mass for a particular muscle or group of muscles. For example a workout routine that targets a specific muscle or group of muscles can lead to muscle imbalances in other parts of the body because too much time is being spent focusing on these areas.
We already know that muscle imbalances can cause back pain and will only be treated by muscle balance therapy. Instead make sure you are performing exercises that work the entire body, even if your goal is to get big biceps or pectorals.
Sin #3 — Ignoring Rest
Anyone who works out regularly has probably been lectured at least once on the importance of rest. I don’t mean sleep, even though it is also a vital part of an effective exercise regimen, but I mean rest from exercise. Rest allows your body–specifically your muscles–time to recover from the tears that form in order to build up strength and muscle mass.
It is up to you how often you rest between your time at the gym, but you should rest at least one day each week and allow yourself several days off in a row at least once each month. Trust me, you will not setback your bodybuilding goals. In fact rest can help you get there quicker because your muscles will have been on a nice vacation and when you return, they will be well rested and ready to work.
As you can see by these sins, bodybuilders aren’t quite the experts they are purported to be in popular culture. This doesn’t mean they have it all wrong; but it means that we have learned a lot more about how muscle imbalances affect our ability to improve strength and muscle mass. Many of these accidental sins can cause back pain and give you an unwanted vacation from the gym.
It isn’t just the exercises you perform that can cause pain, but also how you perform them and how much rest you allow your muscles on a regular basis.