Training With Lower Back Pain

Training With Lower Back Pain

This is really important for ANYONE Training With Lower Back Pain.

I got this question via e-mail and it was TOO GOOD for me not to reply and help.

I suffer from it, and it is HELL.


Hi Rob,

I’ve been subscribed to your mailing list for a while now and I’ve enjoyed all of the great information you have on your website.

One thing I noticed is that, like me, you suffered from a herniated disc in your back some time ago. Last summer I injured my back and went to physiotherapy where I was told that one of my discs had a minor hernia (the physio deduced this through some physical assessments and concluded that I had severe sciatic nerve irritation). After some rehabilitation it started to improve and I began to lift again but avoided deadlifts and squats (much to my dismay). About a month ago, the same thing occurred! It is taking MUCH longer to heal this time and I still cannot lift. I am starting to get discouraged because I am only 24 years old and I never want this to happen again (the pain is absolutely EXCRUCIATING).

I was wondering if you had any tips or suggestions about how to go about training again, safely. You appear to be back in top form after your injury so I am curious to know what it is you did. I don’t want to give up weight lifting but after my back gave out a second time I am beginning to question whether I should change how I keep fit.

Any advice you could offer me would be incredibly appreciated.

Nicholas Bremner

Hey Nicholas

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Sorry for the delay, I get a lot of e-mails.

Thanks for the feedback I really appreciate it.

I feel your pain man, more than you know. I know how hard it is trying to train, and Training With Lower Back Pain is NEVER FUN.

If you haven’t experienced back pain or any pain related to herniations and flare ups you can’t understand.  My girlfriend hurt her back two weeks ago doing squat jacks (body weight) and she was 3 days in bed and a week before she could walk right.

I go through it every two months or so.  I do EVERYTHING I can to minimize it, but more than likely once the damage is done its more about minimizing than getting better.  So ALWAYS keep in mind that the injury is there.  Here are some things you can do to aid in minimizing.

Use THIS WARM UP from Dean Somerset every workout.  No joke I do this, or a variation of this everytime I train now to “wake up” my glutes and activate my core.

Here is the link to a SOLID ARTICLE on Dean Somerset’s blog about his injury and what he did to help recovery. This helped me a LOT.

When it comes to training with lower back pain this will help you a lot, as it did me.

Dean Somerset – How I Screwed Up My Back And What I Did About it…..

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A LOT of lower back pain can come from many things, but common reasons are

– Weak Glutes
– Weak Core
– Poor movement patterns
– Poor Hip Mobility
– Improper Warm Ups

Make sure that every single warm up you do this.

1. Moderate cardio to get body tempeture up
2. Heat on lower back would help pre training
3. ALWAYS do the lower back/glute activation/core activation stuff in the video above
4. ALWAYS start with solid posture and core tension/stability BEFORE you do an exercise
5. Avoid ANY compression loading exercises (Back Squats, Deadlifts etc) (I know it sucks man, trust me I miss those exercises as well)
6. Train your legs more single leg, with less weight, and more time under tension
8. Avoid Heat Post Workout (IE hot showers)
9. Contrast Showers are ok  Heat then cold (they suck but they are awesome)
10. Get a good post workout shake of BCAA’s and berries/greens to reduce inflammation
11. Foam ROLL.  Do this before you train and again at night or early morning.  This is a MUST
12 Use NSAID’s once in a while.  Don’t get reliant on anti inflammatory drugs (Although at night with a drink they sure make me sleep well lol)

This has nothing to do with the blog post, I just like it...a lot 🙂

Start reading everything by Mike Boyle, Tony Gentilcore, Brett Contreras, Dean Somerset, these guys are a wealth of information on back pain and management.

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Two GREAT Resources are

Training with lower back pain can be brutally hard and painful, but hopefully this will help you.

I hope this helps and please keep me posted.



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  • Thanks for the shout-out Rob!!

  • Rob King

    Of course! Thank you for the great blog and info!

  • Nick Bremner

    Rob, this is awesome – thanks! I will add that warmup in to my daily physio routine and see if it helps. One thing I will definitely have to get for my off days is a foam roll. I have used one before and it helped a lot with my IT bands and quads.

    I will definitely keep you posted on how this works out. Thanks again man. I’m sure this post will help many other people suffering from back problems too.

  • Shane Hurley

    Hey Rob, thanks for this awesome post.

    I’ve been dealing with this problem for 10+ years now since I was 16. It seems like every time I start to get into a nice groove in the gym, bam! – disk out, hunched over, twisted to the side. The most recent (and most painful) time being last week where I spent 6 days in bed. Funny enough, it’s never at the gym where I hurt it, but always doing something stupid like looking out a window or getting the milk from the fridge.

    I’m definitely going to try this routine, check the links you’ve provided, and hope that it helps. I’ll give you some feedback as to how it goes. Thanks again!


  • Rob King

    Awesome Shane, give it a go and give me some feedback!