I am 47 year of age and have been a bodybuilder for 35 years. I started training when I was 12 years of age. I have had many small injuries throughout my bodybuilding and powerlifting career and lifestyle. But I have noticed that as I have gotten older, I am constantly being plagues by back muscle spasms. What exactly is a back muscle spasm or muscle spasm in general? A musclespasmis the body’s method of protecting injured structures, or as a means to protect itself from injury. Musclespasmsin thebackcan be caused by a muscle strain, a sprained muscle, or an underlying condition.
The New England Journal of Medicine and the American Chiropractic Associationstates reports that about 80 percent of the U.S. population will suffer from some type of back pain at some time in their lives. A back spasm is the involuntary contraction or tensing of the muscles in the lower back. The condition ranges from infrequent and mild discomfort to severe pain that makes it difficult to move. Back spasms can typically be treated effectively without surgery. Some intervention may be necessary if the pain is related to nerve problems in the spine.
WHY DO BACK SPASMS AND SPASMS OCCUR
From what I understand, Back spasms can be the result of injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back or it can be related to more serious medical conditions. Heavy lifting is a common cause of back spasms. As a Bodybuilder and power lifter, unfortunately, back spasms have become a more frequent thing for me.
Almost any activity that puts excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back can cause an injury. Sports like football and golf can lead to back spasms because they demand that the back turn suddenly and repeatedly. Even simple things like tying your shoes or picking up a pencil can cause your back to spas out.
Your back muscles may be more vulnerable if you have weak abdominal muscles, which is not the case with me due to the fact that I train my abdominal muscle hard and at times with weights, as they help support the back. It would be obvious to conclude that weak or stiff muscles in the back itself can be injured more easily than muscles that are stronger and more limber.
Back spasms may occur if you have an arthritis condition or a ruptured disk in your spine. Arthritis in the lower back can put pressure on the spinal cord, which may cause pain in the back and the legs. A ruptured or bulging disk in the vertebrae may also pressure a nerve, which can result in back pain.
THE BEST WAY TO DIAGNOSE BACK SPASMS AND SPASMS IN GENERAL
The best way to go about treating spasms and back spasms is to go first to your doctor.Your doctor may order an X-ray to look for signs of arthritis or bone fractures. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) may also be in order for a better look at the muscles and other soft tissue. An MRI or CT scan can also help identify possible problems with the disks or with blood supply to the affected area.
You can help your doctor arrive at an accurate diagnosis by explaining your symptoms in detail. You should be ready to discuss:
- the severity of your back pain
- how often it flares up
- what relieves the pain
- when it started
Be sure to tell your doctor if you started getting spasms after a sports injury or after some other physical activity like moving furniture. That may help determine whether the spasms are being caused by a muscle injury.
TREATING BACK SPASMS EFFECTIVELY
If, like in my situation, your spasms begin after training or an injury or an activity that stressed the muscles, try alternating ice and heat on your back. Ice has been shown to help reduce inflammation and heat treatment may help improve blood flow.
Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants may help relieve symptoms while the injured muscles heal. Injections of anti-inflammatory medication, like cortisone, may also help. There are potential side effects certain medications so make sure to ask your doctor about the risks and benefits.
Chiropractic care may help, but be sure to see a doctor to have your condition properly diagnosed first. Physical therapy to help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles is often recommended, as long as the muscles are healthy enough for exercise.
PREVENTING BACK SPASMS
One of my goals is to prevent back spasms. Whenever I expirence a back spasm, I am usually down for the count, which takes several days before I train again. This is completely not acceptable. Your back works hard for you. The better you take care of it, the lower your risk for developing back spasms will become. Standing up straight and wearing low-heeled shoes will help provide stability and strength in your lower back. Regular physical activity like strengthening exercises for your back and abdomen will also help keep you moving and feeling great. Spending too much time in bed or in a seat will lead to worsening back problems. When you start your training, make sure to warm up the abs and back thourougly and also wear one of those rubber waist belts with a little Icy-Hot added to your lower back.
Remember, If you do develop back spasms, dont hesitate to see a doctor. Back pain is generally treatable and theres no reason to suffer from spasms that will keep you out of action.
Here are some recommendations from the MAYO Clinic to help warm up the lower back muscles and spin.
TheMayo Clinicrecommends repeating this lower back flexibility exercise five times daily. You can gradually increase the number of repetitions up to 30 as it gets easier for you to perform the movements:
Lower Back Flexibility
Begin by lying on your back on the floor or a mat. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Next, arch your back. (Tip: Think about trying to point your pubic bone toward your feet.) Hold this pose for 5 seconds, then relax back onto the floor. Flatten your back as though you are trying to pull your navel down toward the floor. Hold this pose for 5 seconds before relaxing back onto the floor.
Lower Back Rotation
Repeat this lower back rotational stretch two or three times on each side of your body. To remember to practice this stretch, try doing it once in the morning and once at night (and add an afternoon stretch as needed):Begin by lying on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Focus on keeping your shoulders touching the floor, and then roll your knees to one side of your body. Hold this pose for up to 10 seconds before returning to your starting position. Repeat on the other side.
I have included some more tips from the ACA website here:
Tips to Prevent Back Pain
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
- Remain activeunder the supervision of your doctor of chiropractic.
- Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
- Warm up or stretch before exercising or other physical activities, such as gardening.
- Maintain proper posture.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
- Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
- Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
- Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
- Work with your doctor of chiropractic to ensure that your computer workstation is ergonomically correct.
2 thoughts on “How to treat a back Spasm”
This is a good article. I often suffer from minor back problems and I am only 25. Basically age has nothing to do with back problems I think. We all suffer from them at one time or another no matter what age.
Yes Lewis you are correct. I plan to start implementing some warm ups with a rubber belt along with adding some icey hot therapy. Also, Chiropractic care would be a good thing to begin using as well if needed.