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CrossFit Injuries: Back Pain & Sciatica

CrossFit Cronulla snatch

CrossFit is a style of fitness that induces a healthy lifestyle consisting of weight lifting, good nutrition, competition, running, gymnastics and more.

For those who are easily bored with exercise, CrossFit is a great way to engage in getting fit. Due to its variety of many different forms of exercise, timed training and even scored workouts, it’s wonderful for the body.

CrossFit may also be beneficial when preparing to engage in a marathon, helping to get the body in preparation mode able to endure in the event.

What is Form and Why is it Important?

When it comes to lifting weights and exercise, it’s very important to understand and maintain the proper posture. There are lifting techniques that one must follow when lifting and working out to help reduce the level of potential injuries to the body or muscles.

Form when lifting is the way you are to perform a specific exercise. When bending over doing a row, it’s important to keep the spine aligned and not arch or round your back. So keeping it straight is key to proper form.

Operating with the proper form is also one sure way to be sure your body is doing the proper amount of work, and you’re not calling on other parts of the body to perform a specific exercise that doesn’t need those muscles. Muscle strength comes when the proper form is maintained when exercising.

Improper form is often the cause of a herniated disc. This issue then results in back pain that is indeed in lots of cases associated with weight lifting. Herniated discs can also be the leading factor in a medical condition known as sciatica.

Is CrossFit bad for my back?

Any fitness regimen, whether it entails CrossFit, is sure to bring some level of back pain at some point. Back pain is many times going to automatically be associated with working out because the human body gets tired sometimes. Many times we place too much pressure on the body too soon. And because the back is at that central point of everything especially when working out, it’s easy to experience some discomfort after engaging in certain exercises.

Hence the reason it’s important to practice the proper form. It’s also important to engage in rest days. Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet and be sure to intake the proper amount of water. So no, CrossFit isn’t bad for your back. But it’s important to be sure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your back. Especially when involving yourself in the strenuous weight lifting elements associated with this particular form of exercise.

Is Sciatica a Cause of my Lower Back Pain?

While there are many leading factors regarding back pain associated with CrossFit, sciatica is indeed said to be one of those factors.

Sciatica is associated with the pain one feels that stems from the sciatic nerve on the backside of the body. It generally only affects one side of the body. The pain then radiates down the nerve. Starting at the lower back and stemming down to the hips and into one of the back of the legs.

CrossFit itself isn’t the cause of sciatica, but it can very well be the cause of a flare-up. The overtraining of the muscles while engaging in CrossFit can and does many times cause sciatica to occur within the leg, back and hip area.

Along with overtraining, developing sciatica is also the result of improper form when lifting. It’s very important to engage in proper form when working out in any capacity, but especially CrossFit.

CrossFit involves the use of strength throughout your body. Therefore, if your core isn’t strong and your back suffers because of the weak core, you’ll more than likely heighten the chances of developing a herniated disc. Or other issues within the back.

The herniated disc is what causes the nerve to be tapped. The disc is no longer properly aligned and is pushing into the path where the nerve is. This is when the pain is produced.

If you struggle with sciatica prior to ever engaging in CrossFit, it’s very important to be sure your body is being treated properly when you aren’t exercising. You also want to be sure your body can handle the extra pressure. If lifting makes the pain worse, it’s probably safe to get treatment and wait until you experience some relief. At least before continuing to lift so heavily and consistently you could benefit from help from a chiropractor.

Will Seeing A Chiropractor Help?

Seeing a chiropractor for back pain and sciatica is very common when one is in search of temporary or sometimes even permanent treatment.

Chiropractors specialize in back pain associated with sciatica, along with many other forms of pain. When it comes to sciatica pain, spinal manipulation and adjustments aren’t always the answer.

However, chiropractors are also known for performing therapeutic massages. Massages can be very beneficial when dealing with such pains associated with sciatica.

After speaking with your doctor considering whether or not chiropractic massage therapy is a good option for you. It’s good to know what to expect. When seeing a chiropractor for sciatica one will generally experience some relief.

The trained specialist focuses on relaxing the deep muscles within the back. This leads to a release of endorphins throughout the body. Endorphins are hormones that are produced in the central nervous system, which are released into the body acting as a form of a painkiller.

The massage therapy helps to kill the pain because it works to relax the muscles. This then causes the body to experience that same feeling one gains when taking pain medications. Therefore chiropractic care is quite beneficial and in some cases very necessary when it comes to treating the pain and looking for relief for back pain and sciatica.

What if I Can’t Visit the Chiropractor Right Now?

If you’re unable to visit your local chiropractor right now or afford over the counter medications, it’s always beneficial for many to use the ice/heat method as a form of temporary therapy. Also – before training, remember to do a proper warm up like a bike, row or run to get your blood flowing and reduce the risk of injury.

Applying ice to the location of pain reduces swelling and therefore helps with inflammation. On the other hand, the heat helps to calm the muscles and induce circulation.

Written by Dr. Brent Wells:

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.