The majority of American adults (80 percent) will struggle with lower back pain at some point in their lives.
While many people’s lower back pain stems from a lack of activity, the opposite can also be true. Too much high-intensity exercise – like the kinds of movements typically involved in CrossFit/functional fitness WODs – can also trigger lower back pain.
Luckily, you don’t have to choose between CrossFit and a healthy, pain-free lower back. There are some simple steps you can take to keep back pain at bay.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about preventing lower back pain caused by CrossFit/functional fitness.
Reasons CrossFitters Struggle with Lower Back Pain
What is it about Crossfit that makes it hard on some people’s lower backs? There are a few reasons why Crossfitters might struggle with lower back pain, including the following:
Lack of Core Stability Exercises
Some CrossFit coaches place very little emphasis on core stability. This, in turn, sets you up for a lot of potential back injuries, especially as you progress and your workouts get more intense.
If you’re going to push yourself to lift a heavier weight or go for a new PR, it’s also important to wear a lifting belt for additional back support and to reduce your injury risk.
Lack of Proper Warm-up
If you jump right into intense exercises without warming up properly, you’re much more likely to hurt your lower back, especially when you’re doing heavy compound exercises like deadlifts or snatches.
Your body needs some time to ease into your workouts. Get your heart rate up and loosen your muscles a bit before taking on the challenging movements featured in most CrossFit workouts.
Lifting Weights that are too Heavy
If you push yourself and try to progress too quickly, you’ll be more likely to injure yourself. Avoid getting too competitive with the other people in your gym.
If you try to lift like your neighbour when you haven’t been working out nearly as long, you’re just going to end up with a sore back and a bruised ego.
Not Enough Mind-Muscle Connection
It’s easy to find yourself going through the motions during CrossFit workouts, especially when you’re trying to hit a new PR or keep up with a partner.
The problem with this, though, is that, when you’re not focusing on each movement, your injury risk goes up. A poor mind-muscle connection will also hinder your post-workout results.
Preventing Lower Back Pain Caused by CrossFit/Functional Fitness
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why you might be experiencing more lower back pain since starting CrossFit. These tips can help you relieve your pain and prevent future discomfort and soreness.
Strengthen Your Core
You may need to make an extra effort to strengthen your core outside of your typical CrossFit workouts. Set aside some time a few days a week to work on core stabilization and strengthening moves like planks, bird-dogs, and sit-ups.
Warm Up Properly
If you tend to show up late and miss out on the warm-up, start doing your best to make showing up on time a priority. Your lower back will thank you.
Scale Your Workouts
You don’t have to lift a weight that’s too heavy for you. Even if everyone else is lifting it without a problem, remember that you are not everyone else. Pick a weight that’s challenging, but not so challenging that you can’t lift with good form.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sufficient sleep is essential for proper recovery. If you’re dealing with lower back pain or another injury, getting enough sleep is necessary.
Some people find that they wake up sore or achy in the morning. If this is the case for you, you might want to use a different mattress or new pillows. A medium-firm mattress works best for most people, and a body pillow provides back support, too.
Finally, be sure to give your workouts your full attention. Every time you do an exercise, make sure you’re breathing deeply and focusing on proper lifting form. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or how you look, just focus on doing the exercise correctly.