Bodybuilding and Lower Back Pain


Bodybuilding training can be intense and can sometimes lead to issues such as lower back pain. There can be several causes of lower back pain -- it may be due to muscle imbalances, your technique on certain exercises or the way you train. It's important that you find out the cause, address the issue and rid yourself of lower back pain, because not doing so could hamper your training and have a negative impact on your bodybuilding career.


One of the main bodybuilding exercises you're likely to injure your lower back on is the deadlift. Deadlifting builds strong hamstrings, glutes and a lower back but also carries a high degree of risk. According to Jim Smith of Diesel Crew Strength and Conditioning most deadlifting injuries happen when you initiate the movement with your back, rather than your hamstrings, or when you allow the bar to drift away from your body.

Tight Muscles

Quite often, lower back pain can be caused by issues around your hips. If you have tight gluteals and hamstrings, the range of motion at your pelvis is limited, meaning that many movements that would usually happen at your hips actually occur in your lower back. This can place excessive stress in your spine and lower back muscles, and lead to pain. Make sure you stretch your glutes and hamstrings after every workout and get a sports massage when necessary.

Weak Muscles

Having weak glutes and hamstrings can also place more stress on your lower back, as can having weak abdominals. Many bodybuilders neglect ab training, fearing it will make their waists look too thick or believing that it simply isn't needed, but this is a mistake. Strength coach Eric Cressey advises adding core stability exercises to your program to help strengthen your whole midsection and to prevent back pain. Exercises such as planks, side bridges, Pallof presses and rollouts are ideal for this. Do two 10-minute core training sessions each week.


If you suffer from lower back pain that comes on suddenly, use the RICE method. This stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Hold an ice pack on your lower back and apply pressure for 20 minutes four to eight times per day. Once the pain has subsided, visit a doctor or physiotherapist to have your lower back assessed, then begin training again when you get approval. When you start back training, incorporate stretching and glute, hamstring and core training, and check your technique on all of your exercises to help prevent the pain from reoccurring.