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  • Writer's pictureCoach AP

So You Tweaked Your Back in Training: Now What?

In the pursuit of strength and performance, powerlifters and weightlifters often find themselves pushing their bodies to the limit. Unfortunately, with this intensity comes the risk of injury, and one of the most common yet troublesome injuries for these athletes is a "tweaked" back. So, what should you do when faced with this setback?

Understanding the Injury

A tweaked back can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, often occurring due to improper load management, elevated stress / overexertion, or repetitive stress on the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine. Powerlifters and weightlifters, whose sport demands rigorous spinal loading, are particularly susceptible to this issue.

Initial Steps

1. Immediate Rest:

  • As soon as you feel the tweak, stop the activity causing discomfort. Continuing could exacerbate the injury. If other movements feel pain-free or adjusting the load can help you move pain-free, it may be safe to continue training those movements.

2. Heat Therapy:

  • Apply heat to the affected area to relax muscles and improve blood flow. Taking a hot bath, sauna, or a heating pad are some of the recommended strategies.

3. Light Movement:

  • Engage in gentle, pain-free movements like walking to prevent stiffness. Avoid activities that aggravate the pain. Keep intensity low to moderate. Try to avoid sitting for long stretches of time to prevent stiffness.

Recovery Expectations

The recovery timeline varies depending on the severity of the injury. Minor tweaks might resolve within a few days with proper management and recovery efforts. However, more significant injuries can take weeks or even months to heal completely. Listen to your body; returning too soon can lead to a prolonged recovery or worsen the condition.

When to Seek Medical Advice

1. Persistent Pain:

  • If the pain persists or worsens after a few days of self-care, it's wise to consult a healthcare professional.

2. Radiating Pain or Numbness:

  • Pain that travels down your legs or causes numbness might indicate nerve involvement, requiring medical attention.

3. Loss of Function:

  • Inability to perform basic movements or noticing weakness in your limbs necessitates a visit to a doctor or physical therapist.

4. Previous History of Back Issues:

  • If you've had back problems in the past, it's advisable to seek professional guidance earlier rather than later.

Rehabilitation and Prevention

Once the acute phase has passed and you've consulted a healthcare provider, a structured rehabilitation plan becomes essential. This typically involves targeted exercises to strengthen the back and core muscles, improving flexibility, and gradually reintroducing lifting movements.

Long-Term Strategies

1. Proper Technique:

  • Focus on maintaining efficient form during lifts to minimize the risk of future injuries.

2. Progressive Training:

  • Gradually increase weights and intensity to allow your body to adapt and strengthen gradually.

3. Rest and Recovery:

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of adequate rest and recovery between training sessions. Overtraining can lead to increased injury risks.

A tweaked back doesn’t have to be the end of your lifting journey. Approach it as an opportunity to reassess your training methods, focus on recovery, and return stronger and more mindful of your body's signals. However, never hesitate to seek professional medical advice when in doubt, as your health should always be a priority on your fitness journey.

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