Common Causes of Back Pain After Working Out

Common causes of back pain after working out
Common causes of back pain after working out

Working out is part of living a happy, healthy life. However, while exercise can do a lot of good for your body, it can also do some bad. This is especially true as it pertains to your back.

Your back is the centerpiece of your body. It lends structure and stability to your legs, arms, head, and other limbs. Because of this, it’s always susceptible to injury, especially if exercises are not performed correctly.

Are you feeling back pain after a workout? If so, there could be a number of different reasons for it. Let’s discuss them, shall we?

Causes of Back Pain After Exercise

As was noted above, back pain occurs after a workout for a number of different reasons. The core to most of these reasons is improper exercise technique. However, improper technique is not always the culprit.


DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is a condition which comes about as a result of rigorous exercise. This condition results in a sore pain in the muscles, typically first appearing a few hours after exercise is completed.

Unlike the other conditions we’ll discuss, DOMS is not a sign of poor health. In fact, it’s a sign that you got a good workout in.

DOMS is an indication that you successfully tore the fibers in your muscles, allowing said muscles to be rebuilt with new proteins. If you’re experiencing DOMS in your back muscles, pat yourself on the back. You’re progressing in your workouts.

Poor Core Strength

A common reason for people to experience back pain after a workout is that they possess poor core strength. When a person doesn’t possess adequate core strength, he or she subjects him or herself to poor posture while lifting weights or running. In essence, this person is putting high levels of stress directly on the back.

A strong core allows a person to lift weights and run with proper posture. This reduces the amount of stress which is put on the back, keeping it safe and healthy all throughout the workout.

There are a number of exercises which you can to do strengthen your core. They include everything from sit-ups, to crunches, to planks, and more. Performing these exercises regularly will provide you with the core strength needed to preserve your back during exercise.

Pulled Muscle

Did you feel a sharp pain in your back muscle during your workout? Is that pain persisting long after your workout? If so, there’s a decent chance that you pulled a muscle.

A pulled muscle is caused by a number of different things. Using your muscle in the wrong way will typically result in a pull or strain, as will overusing your muscle. It’s important to perform exercises slowly so as not to jerk the muscles in your back in the wrong direction.

The exercises with which people most typically pull muscles in their backs include squats and deadlifts. These exercises put a great deal of strain on the back, making it vulnerable to improper movement.

Slipped Disc

Another possible reason for back pain after a workout is a slipped disc. Also known as a herniated disc, this condition occurs when the padding in the spine becomes misplaced and puts undue pressure on the spine or nerves.

A slipped disc can result in serious pain, sometimes to the point that it’s difficult for its recipient to stand up. Most typically caused by heavy squatting or deadlifting, slipped discs usually occur when the lifter pulls hard in a sudden, jerking motion.

While some slipped discs will require surgery or therapy, others can go away entirely on their own. In any case, it’s important to avoid strenuous exercise until the condition has cleared itself up.

Ligament Tear

In total, the back contains 14 total ligaments. These ligaments are positioned to prevent the back from slipping out of place. However, they are not unbreakable. When enough stress is applied to them, they can stretch and tear.

On rare occasions, back pain after a workout occurs due to a ligament tear. Usually, when a ligament tears, you can hear a popping noise. If you don’t hear this popping noise, you’ll likely be alerted to the torn ligament by the severe pain which is shooting through your back.

Torn ligaments require surgery in order to heal fully. If you’ve suffered a torn ligament, you must give up exercise until it’s entirely healed.

What Can You Do to Ease Back Pain?

If you’re suffering from back pain after working out, there are a number of different things you can do to ease it. They are as follows:

Strengthen Your Core

As was noted above, you can reduce the amount of strain put on your back by strengthening your core. Performing core exercises such as crunches and planks will allow you to maintain good posture during exercise.

It’s important to note, however, that you shouldn’t start using these exercises until after your current injury has healed. Exercising with existing pain will only serve to make the injury worse than it already it is.

Apply Ice

Whether you’re suffering from a pulled muscle, a torn ligament, or DOMS, your back is experiencing inflammation. To reduce pain in your back, you must reduce this inflammation. How do you do this? By applying ice to the affected area.

Placing an ice pack on your back regularly throughout the day can do a lot to lessen swelling and pain. Two of three time a day for at least 15 minutes each should do the trick.

Apply Heat

If your back injury has occured because of muscle tightness, you can help rectify the problem by applying heat to the affected area. Heat will help to expand the muscles in your back, allowing them to stretch to and fro with little strain.

In addition to expanding the muscle, heat also allows for important nutrients to make their way to the muscle. This replenishes said muscle, allowing the back to heal more quickly. Like with ice, applying heat two or three times a day for around 15 minutes each should get the job done.

Utilize Pain Medicine

In addition to applying heat and cold, it’s wise to also make use of some sort of pain medicine for your back. Depending on the severity of your pain, you might have to pay a visit to a doctor. A physician will be able to prescribe you a stronger medication than you will find on store counters.

If your pain is just minor, you can get by with ibuprofen or Tylenol. Taking medication such as this will not heal your back, but it will make it feel a little better.


One of the keys to reducing back pain after a workout is to stretch. Stretching keeps the muscles loose, preventing them from contracting, cramping, and causing undue pain.

It’s important to perform stretches for the entire body; not just for the back. Every part of the body is connected, and can either positively or negatively the other parts. Keeping your entire body stretched out will help to reduce physical agony.


Whether you’re suffering from a slipped disc or DOMS, it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest between workouts. Any pain in the back is an indication that your body is suffering from some wear and tear.

When muscles are worked out, they typically require at least a full day to heal. Larger muscles typically require 2 or 3 days to heal fully. Overworking these muscles can result in even greater pain and injury.

Bringing it All Together

If you’re experiencing back pain after a workout, it can be for a number of different reasons. Some forms of back pain after exercise are entirely normal while others are a cause for concern.

Whatever it is you’re suffering from, there is something you can do about it. Instead of letting the pain take over your life, you should be proactively trying to make it subside.The above tips are designed to ease the pain in your back, allowing you to get back in the gym as quickly as possible.

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