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What Causes Pain in Lower Back after Workout?

Jan 22, 2018

If you develop lower back pain after working out or playing any sports, then you should take care of it properly. An acute pull or strain of muscle may need icing and stabilizing or resting for some time if you want the muscle strain to heal and get better properly. In case the pain in lower back does not get better after appropriate treatment and rest, it may be due to more chronic or long-term condition.

What Are the Causes of Lower Back Pain after Exercise?

1. Acute Injury

It’s quite normal to have soreness in your lower back after performing core or back exercises. This occurs as there is a natural inflammatory reaction of the body to exercise which causes microtrauma to muscles and their surrounding connective tissues. However, you should be aware of the difference between potential injury to your lower back and normal soreness in your lower back. Soreness develops 6-8 hours post workout, peaks 24-48 hours later and disappears 72 hours after the workout. Any type of acute pain in the back which starts abruptly during or immediately post work out is generally a sign of injury to the lower back. Similarly, acute debilitating pain in the back, which doesn’t get better after 72 hours post work out, may also indicate injury to the back. Symptoms can include a dull ache, sharp pain, swelling, difficulty in standing straight, limited range of motion, numbness, weakness and tingling.  Acute pain or pain for short term in the back may be caused due to lifting excess weight or bending or twisting while doing a strenuous exercise.

2. Chronic Causes

Chronic conditions of the back such as osteoporosis, herniated disc and spondylitis may also cause lower back pain post a work out and needs the attention of a physician or specialist.

3. Pulls or Strains

When lower back muscles are pulled or strained, muscle spasms and inflammation may occur. Fortunately, such injuries can heal fairly fast with rest, ice, heat and anti-inflammatory drugs. Severe pain can be relieved by lying down in majority of the situations.

Notes and Precautions:

  • In case your back pain doesn’t get better or you get it every time you exercise, visit a physician or a specialist to ensure that there is nothing more serious that is causing the pain. Similarly, if your back pain is severe or sharp, you should visit a physician immediately.
  • Back pain may occur if you tone a muscle and not stretch it afterwards. Make sure to do stretching exercises of the back in case you do exercises to strengthen it. Furthermore, do toning exercises of different groups of muscles on alternate days so that the muscles get some rest.

Treatment of Lower Back Pain

Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen may help in reducing the swelling and provide almost immediate relief. Your physician may prescribe narcotics or steroids if you have developed a serious or severe injury of the back. You can also apply ice pack to the injured area immediately and alternate it by applying a heating pad. This will help by loosening the tight muscles surrounding the injured area. Your symptoms may also be relieved by taking bed rest; however, bed rest is not advised for greater than 2 or 3 days by doctors. After a couple of days of bed rest it is recommended to start range of motion exercises. By performing simple exercises of the back and getting back into your usual exercise routine you will be able to regain your strength.

Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain after Exercise

  1. Knee Rolls

Lie flat on the back. You can put a flat, small book or cushion beneath your head. Place your knees together and bent. The upper body should be relaxed with chin tucked in gently. Stretch your arms by your sides. Roll both your knees keeping them together to one side and then your pelvis. Your shoulders should be kept on the floor. Keep in this position for one breath and then return to starting position.

Do 8-10 repetitions on both sides.


  • You can put a pillow in between the knees to provide comfort
  • Only move your knees as far as you feel comfortable


  1. Back Extensions

Lie flat on the stomach. Prop on the elbows and lengthen your spine, keeping the shoulders, neck and back long. Now arch the back up while pushing down your hands. As you are arching backwards, a gentle stretch should be felt in your stomach muscles. Hold in this position for 5-10 seconds. Now return to starting position.

Do 8-10 repetitions.


  • Avoid bending your neck in backward direction
  • Your hips should be kept grounded

  1. Pelvic tilts

Lie on the back. You can put a flat, small book or cushion beneath your head. Keeping the feet straight and at a distance of hip width, then bend the knees. The upper body should be kept relaxed and chin should be kept tucked in gently. Flatten the lower back gently into floor and contract muscles of the stomach. Now you should tilt the pelvis towards the heels till a gentle arch is felt in the lower back and you feel contraction of the muscles of the back. Now return back to the starting position.

Do 10-15 repetitions, tilting pelvis up and down in slow, gentle motion.


  • The deep abdominal muscles should be kept working throughout the pelvic tilts
  • Avoid pressing down through neck, feet or shoulders


You can put one hand under the lower back and other on the stomach to feel whether the correct muscles are working or not.

  1. Cat Stretch

While relaxing the stomach, position yourself on knees and hands. Now, gently arch the back, feeling the stretch. Remember that the stretch must not hurt you. Now return to starting position. Do 8-10 repetitions or as may repetitions as you find comfortable doing.

Tips to relieve lower back pain after exercise

Go easy on your daily routine. In case your lower back feels very sore and stiff every time you exercise and is not relieved by stretching, don’t do exercise for some days and see if the pain gets better.