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  • Dr. Chris Beavers PT, DPT

The Biggest Reason You Have Low Back Pain With Olympic Lifts


80% of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. Its very common yet many health care providers don’t treat back pain effectively. They prescribe bed rest and muscle relaxers as a means to reduce pain. Bed rest being one of the worst things that a patient can do. For the fitness athlete and the average person, this is unhelpful advice that leaves you still in pain and without a true solution to your problem


Recurrent flare ups of low back pain can be brought on by frequent overhead lifting especially in the fitness athlete. Now this is not because lifting weight overhead and olympic lifts are dangerous but really its because of common movement faults that place increased stress on the low back.


One of the biggest issues I encounter in the clinic is the tendency for the athlete to overarch their low back when pressing barbells overhead. This places the joints of the low back in a poor position and pushes them together causing increased pressure and stress. That coupled with the load of the barbell and with the repetitive nature of lifting weights can create a ripe environment to having recurrent flare ups of low back pain.


There are two major reasons that I see this in the clinic. One of the causes is tight lats. The lats attach from the low back all the way up to the front of the shoulder. So this becomes a problem with overhead lifts because as we lift our arms overhead we are stretching the lats which causes us to arch our low back again placing increased pressure on the joints of our low back. Here is a test to determine if you have tight lats.





If you failed this test the key is regular stretching of the lats. Give this drill a shot if you have limitations with the lat mobility test.


Box Stretch



The other most common issue I see issue is an inability to control their low back. Meaning the athlete possesses the ability to keep the low back from arching but they cannot maintain it under the load of the barbell or because they lack core endurance. Here are two drills to help teach you to not arch your back when pressing overhead



Supine Banded Y's


Overhead Palloff Press



I love these drills because they teach you how to properly brace and feel what it feels like to keep tension in the core the entire time. Also they remove the ability for you to arch your low back. Especially the first drill. It is nearly impossible to arch your low back here because we removed the legs.


Developing core control is something that takes regular practice and conscious effort. If you have been experiencing back pain for weeks and avoiding activities, you love its time to get that taken care of. Give us a call at 615-438-3963 to schedule a free phone consultation.

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