Jul 26, 2020
Back pain is ubiquitous, and an unfortunate reality of being human. As Darin and Trent described in their four-part series of back pain (see episodes 28, 29, 31, and 33), it is a complex problem with many facets, including structural, psychological, and even social causes. That said, many trainees will encounter back pain during their training, so in this episode Darin and Trent lay out some practical tips for modifying training to accommodate back pain.
As always, we suggest actually doing the program first. Follow the principles of strength training, laid out in Starting Strength, and train the big barbell lifts to built strength in your whole body, especially in the trunk musculature which stabilizes the spine. Often just training your body in a systematic, progressive way -- with good technique, that is critical -- can reduce your pain symptoms by strengthening your tissues, bringing more stability and mobility to those tissues, and training your mind to de-catastrophize the experience of pain while moving.
For athletes that do strength train but still experience back pain that hampers your progress, we have some recommendations for modifying the main barbell lifts, incorporating assistance and/or supplemental lifts, and managing volume and intensity in programming.
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