A couple times in the past week some people have come up to me asking about a certain way they were feeling after a work out. The comments/questions were strikingly similar so I wanted to post about it tonight.1
The questions basically went like this: Hey.. umm… so after tonights workout my lower back is really tight, kinda hurts. Is that ok?
For the record, the days I got asked this, we were doing dead lifts or running.
I think we’ve all been bombarded with messages about back pain and protecting your back from so many angles the second we feel any discomfort in our back, we’re leery of what’s going on. Personally, I think that’s a good thing – always better to pay attention to your body and err on the side of safety, in my opinion. However, I’d like to go over an important distinction that you should ask yourself when you’re questioning if something isn’t right.
Sore? or Hurt?
Are you sore? Or are you hurt? Very different things there. Sore is discomfort. It’s your muscles in a state of breakdown and your body trying to rebuild. Hurt is different. Hurt is structural damage. Hurt is pinched nerves, slipped discs, or internal bleeding.
So the first thing you should do when you’re feeling off is ask yourself. Am I hurt or am I sore?
Going back to the back discomfort/soreness after doing heavy deadlifts – of course your lower back is going to be somewhat sore. While it’s a predominantly leg driven movement, your spinal erectors (which traverse your lower back) are one of the biggest non-leg muscle groups used. You need core stabilization to keep your trunk from caving forward and keeping upward movement on the barbell, and that comes from these back muscles.
So after dead lifting heavy weight (or high reps), you should feel some soreness in your lower back. Just like you would expect to feel soreness in your abs after doing a lot of sit ups – you’re using the muscle and it’s reacting to the use.
For those of your who expressed lower back pain while running – the answer is pretty simple. Running requires you to maintain good back posture for an extended period of time – something many of us aren’t used to doing in todays “sitting-at-desk” age. Again, this requires your back muscles to be engaged for pretty much the entire time we’re running, since no one runs in a slouched position.
Now those are common ailments if you’re performing the movement with the correct form and under manageable loads. Let’s say you’re doing 110% of your 1RM Deadlift, or doing Hill Sprints when you’re not properly warmed up… now that’s leading you to evaluate the Hurt? side of the equation.
If you’re running in a jarring manner, if you have excessive mobility issues, or you’re operating at an intensity your body isn’t equipped to handle you might have actually hurt something. Same goes for any movement.
Don’t automatically assume that any ailment you have is just muscle soreness – pay attention to what you’re feeling. Soon you’ll start to know immediately what you’re feeling and whether or not you’re sore or hurt.
Workout of the Day
20 Min to practice rope climbs
4 Rounds for Time:
12 Box Jumps
6 press (115/75)
* Take the push jerks from the rack. Scale strict pull ups with bands.