Lower back pain after a chest workout may be caused by poor form, such as arching your back during the bench press or other back exercises. Additionally, trying to perform back exercises with more weight than you’re ready for can cause back pain, as can neglecting to control the weight during the downward movement of the exercise. Review and correct your form to eliminate back pain after a chest workout. If pain persists, consult a doctor—you may have a serious injury.
Why Does Your Lower Back Hurt After a Chest Workout?
Incorrect lifting form is the number one cause of lower back pain following a chest workout. If you do not keep your shoulder blades retracted, your back will round, placing more strain on your back muscles. More commonly, lifters arch their back too much during movements such as the bench press. By arching your back until your abdominal muscles are stretched and your glutes lift off the bench, you put a lot of negative strain on your lower back.
- Poor form during chest-specific exercises.
- Allowing your back to round.
- Overarching your back.
- Not controlling the descent of the weight.
- Lifting too much weight.
Poor form that strains your lower back is also signified by letting the weight “drop” down to your chest during the bench press. Dropping this weight onto yourself, combined with an overarched back, can cause lower back injury. It’s likely that these bad form habits are caused by lifting more weight than you’re ready for. Remember to progress gradually and safely during weight training.
How to Correct Back Pain Caused by a Chest Workout
The key to keeping your lower back safe from injury during chest workouts is to focus on proper form. Instead of arching your back, aim for what’s called a “neutral position.” This is the natural arch in your lower back that exists when you stand upright. Keep your spine in this position throughout each chest exercise.
- Practice proper lifting form.
- Keep a “neutral arch” in your back.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and down.
- Control the descent of the weight.
When performing any chest exercise, it’s key to keep your shoulder blades retracted. To do this, pull your shoulder blades together and down. It helps to think of putting your shoulder blades “in your back pockets.” This more fully stretches and activates each chest muscle, preventing back strain. Finally, control the weight throughout the entire range of motion. Don’t allow the weight to “fall” on the downward movement of the bench press of the chest fly.
Other Causes of Back Pain After a Chest Workout
Even if you’re lifting with the correct form, you may still experience lower back pain after chest workouts. One common cause is not from the chest workout, but tight muscles in your hip flexors and hamstrings. You may also be experiencing muscle soreness from a previous workout that targeted your upper body.
- Tight hip flexor or hamstring muscles.
- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
- Serious back injury.
If your lower back pain is persistent, it could be a sign of serious injury. A herniated, compressed, or slipped disc requires medical attention. If the back pain does not improve after 3–5 days, this is more than a minor lifting injury.
How to Treat Lower Back Pain
If your lower back is sore and tight after a chest workout, start by stretching. Some good, gentle stretches for your hip flexors include standing lunges and butterfly stretches. Although it’s strange to think your hamstrings might cause lower back pain, stretching them can help relieve this pain. Simple stretches like toe touches (performed seated or standing) can stretch out these tight muscles. A good stretching routine increases flexibility and helps prevent lower back pain in the future.
- Stretch your hip flexors.
- Perform hamstring focused stretches.
- See a doctor if you are suffering severe or persistent lower back pain.
If your back pain does not subside after 3–5 days, you may be dealing with a serious injury. In this case, visit a doctor. Properly treating a back injury will ensure a faster, more complete recovery.
Why is Your Lower Back Sore From Doing Chest Exercises?
If you’re experiencing pain or tightness in your lower back after chest day in the gym, the most common causes are:
- Overarching your back during chest exercises such as bench press.
- Rounding your back by not pulling your shoulder blades back during chest exercises.
- Tight muscles in your hips and hamstrings.
- A serious injury, such as a herniated disc.
If the pain is not severe, first work to correct your chest exercise form. Then, incorporate a stretching routine that focuses on your hips and hamstrings. This will prevent future back injury. If the pain is intense or persistent, it’s time to see a doctor for treatment. Continuing to work out if you have severe pain may make the pain worse.