By Matt Evans
Wherever you are in the world, chances are lockdown disrupted (or is disrupting) your lifestyle, forcing you to spend more time at home. With no more commuting, walking to the shops or trips to the gym, many of us began working out in the comfort of our front rooms.
Around 47% of British people were exercising daily during lockdown according to Mind Your Back UK, more than three times as many as before the pandemic hit. Whether following one of our YouTube yoga workouts or buying a set of adjustable dumbbells, we've tried to make it easier than ever to keep moving.
However, some home exercisers have gone too far: one third of these people have reported aches and pains from working out, including back pain.
- The best supplements for joints: Fight pain, swelling and inflammation now
Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons. Some mild back pain caused by working out could be delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. Resistance training exercise using weights and resistance bands often lead to sore, painful muscles, but this is perfectly normal.
When you perform moves such as deadlifts or pulls, which tax your lower and upper back muscles, you might confuse DOMS with more serious back problems, but this muscular pain will usually subside in a couple of days as your muscles regrow and get stronger. If you're not used to exercising a particular muscle group, and you worked out very hard, you'll find these muscular pains are more severe.
More serious problems can include degenerative muscular and bone-related issues caused by the following:
- Weak back muscles, often due to lack of specific exercises
- Incorrect desk and workstation set up, especially hunching over a keyboard, leading to poor posture
- A poor sleeping position
- Unsupportive footwear
- Lack of general movement and exercise, such as walking
- Overweight, leading to more pressure on joints
Pulled muscles, muscle wastage, a lifetime of bad posture and osteoporosis, as well as other bone-related health issues, are only made worse by a sedentary lifestyle.
It's easy to get stuck into a sedentary lifestyle while staying at home, and a few frenzied, unstructured minutes of exercise will only make the issues caused by the above lifestyle conditions even more painful.
Mind Your Back, a UK-based campaign backed by pharmaceutical corporation Mentholatum, which produce the Deep Heat and Deep Relief lines of muscular pain relief products, recommend the following steps to manage and mitigate back pain:
- Stretch, even for a few minutes a day. If you're not sure how to get started, you can check out our Beginner's Guide to Stretching.
- Therapy. It's natural Mentholatum, as the producers of Deep Heat, is going to recommend its own products. However, research published in the journal Physical Therapy has found heat, applied in the form of ultrasound and commercially-available hot packs, can increase the range of motion in muscles and joints.
- Exercise. If you think being overzealous with the weights is causing your back pain, take a step back and go for a walk or cycle ride instead. A report from Harvard University found weight loss is key in reducing back pain.
- Posture. Check your posture while working or watching TV. If you sit over a keyboard, make sure you have a posture corrector, ergonomic office chair and a laptop stand to bring your screen to eye level.
- Strengthen. Make sure you can improve your back muscles slowly and safely with resistance training exercises. Learn to deadlift properly to mitigate further muscle issues and strengthen your lower back.
- How to warm up: stretches, dynamic warm up exercises and more
How to use Strava - plus is the fitness app any good?
Wondering how to use Strava? Allow us to break down the activity tracking and analysis app for you...
By Howard Calvert •
This man was bullied for being fat in high school, so he spent years getting ripped
Weight loss Queensland's Anthony Bayer overcame food addiction and a sedentary lifestyle to turn his health around
By Matt Evans •
"I will treasure this feeling forever": meet our Trainer of the Year!
Awards 47-year-old Emma Goodman-Horne was crowned Fit&Well's Trainer of the Year from a 70-strong longlist
By Stephanie Wood •
Fitbit Versa deals: Great offers on Fitbit's top multi-model smartwatch range
Deals Get Fitbit Versa 3, Versa 2 and Versa Lite – the ultimate fitness watch for style and features - at the best price
By Rob Clymo •
7 celebrity fitness secrets from over 50s: Barack Obama, Halle Berry & more
Fitness From Halle Berry to Barack Obama and Michelle Pfeiffer, steal the fitness secrets of celebrities
By Claire Fox •
How to get rid of aches, back pain and bad posture in 20 minutes a day
Fitness Simple stretching exercises are the best way to ditch bad posture and fix back pain, according to experts
By Matt Evans •
Best treadmill: The top indoor running machines for home gyms
Buying guide Our list of the best treadmills for you, from beginners to seasoned runners
By Lee Bell •
Best rowing machine: Top rowers to burn fat and tone your whole body
Buying Guide The best rowing machine offers both cardio and a full body workout, all in one machine
By Chris Smith •
Low-impact exercises: The best joint-friendly workouts for you
Fitness Joints hurting? These low-impact exercises allow you to workout without enduring the pain
By Lucy Gornall •
Best bicep workouts: How to tone your muscles and get bigger arms fast
Fitness Some of the best bicep workouts to net you a stronger, more defined set of guns
By Leon Poultney •