Return to the Gym: Reducing Back Injuries While Working Out



Planet Fitness has seen a surge of new memberships while Pelotons’ stock has plummeted. This comes as Americans are leaving behind at-home workouts in search of in-person experiences. Those who have been participating in at-home workouts have likely been building muscle, improving flexibility, and raising their heart rates.

However, gyms offer activities that aren’t available at home – including some options that pose more risk such as weight lifting. Because of this, it is likely that we’ll also see a surge of back and neck injuries as individuals overextend themselves at the gym.

Strengthening Your Back

Before returning to the gym, it’s wise to evaluate your overall health and wellness. Regular exercise, stretching, and a proper diet all contribute to a balanced life and help maintain spine health. If you’re new to the world of fitness, keep in mind that a multi-pronged approach to wellness will provide the best results.

Exercises that develop core, abdomen, and back muscles will strengthen and support your spine. A focus on these activities will help you get back into the groove at the gym and reduce the overall risk of injury.

Avoiding Back Injuries

Anytime we return to physical activities we haven’t done in a while – or try new activities – there is an increased risk of injury. If you’re returning to the gym or going for the first time, you should take on workouts at a slower speed to avoid putting your body in danger. Stretching both before and after your workout is also beneficial to preventing injury.

You should also remember to practice safe lifting both in and out of the gym. Bend your knees, use your legs and core to lift, maintain good balance, and keep breathing. Having a spotter nearby will also help reduce the risk of injury.

Treatment Options for Injuries

While injuries are never planned, they occur to even those with the best of intentions. If you have experienced a back or neck injury at the gym, you are not alone and there are plenty of treatment options available.

During the first 48-72 hours after an injury occurs, it can be helpful to alternate between applying ice and heat. Ice will decrease local swelling, while heat will promote blood flow. Both will aid in the healing process. Most importantly, refrain from any activities that may further strain your back until you receive proper care.

Your doctor will be able to discuss additional treatment options to help you manage pain and reduce further damage. Physical or aquatic therapy, chiropractic care, injections, and regenerative treatments can all help you get back on your feet.

If you have experienced a back or neck injury, the National Spine Health Foundation invites you to join private our support group and be encouraged by others on a similar journey toward healing. We also have resources available to help you learn more about prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and most importantly recovery!