Throwing out your back usually refers to pulling a muscle, which results in a spasm – causing tightness and/or pain around the area.
When you threw out your back, you probably noticed you couldn’t move much… That is a good thing, because this is your body’s way of protecting you from further injuring yourself.
In a way, your body is telling you; “hey, you’ve overextended yourself physically, so let me contract all the muscles around the area, so that you can’t move and hurt yourself further.”
The good news is that by doing some simple self-treatments at home (below), you can ease your back pain quickly, usually within 1-3 weeks.
Ways to throw out one’s back include:
- Lifting a heavy object
- Twisting while lifting or picking something up
- Sudden fall or slipping on something
- Overstretching to reach something
- Repetitive movements
- Sports injury
What does it feel like?
Usually, you’ll feel a sharp pain in the area, with several muscles contracting (tightening) around the area. The pain can be so severe, that you’ll have to immediately cease all activities, even walking.
What areas get affected:
Common areas in the back that one throws out are:
- Low back – Erector Spinae muscles
- Butt muscles – Gluteus Medius or Gluteus Maximus
- Shoulder blade area
Please note, many people pull their muscle in the Gluteus Medius area. The Glute Medius runs on the posterior (back side) of your lilium (hip bone), and is technically a butt muscle, even though it is often referred to “low back”, since it’s in the same area. This muscle tends to be weak on many folks, and therefore can get pulled/injured easily.
Most Likely if you threw out your low back area, many of the muscles around your back and hips will get chronically tight. Therefore, it is a good idea to treat all the muscles in that area, NOT just a single muscle, to get relief.
Treatment Options for Throwing out your back:
1. First 48-72 hours: Ice the area for 20 min at a time, 5-6 times a day
Icing the area is the 1st thing you need to do for the healing to start. It will reduce inflammation and swelling. Use a thin shirt or towel between your skin and ice (Do not apply ice directly on skin). Check out this article for more info: Ice Vs Heat for back pain
2. Self Massage (Gentle)
Applying pressure to the muscles is another great way to reduce tightness and ultimately relax the muscles. Never apply direct pressure to the spine! Instead apply pressure around the spine, to the low back muscles and butt muscles. You can use a foam roller or a smaller ball like massage ball/tennis ball/la crosse ball. Check out this article for more Self Massage Techniques.
3. Dynamic Stretching Or Movement
The old advice of “bed rest” has been debunked… Introducing some movement into the area can be helpful. The key is not to do any “static” stretching, that could potentially pull the muscle even more. Instead, we recommend dynamic stretching – which basically means you’ll be moving in and out of the stretches. The Cat & Cow is one the best Dynamic Stretches you can do.
How to Prevent this in future?
A) Strengthen your muscles – Usually when you throw out your back from lifting a heavy fridge (or some other object), its because the muscle/s you loaded couldn’t handle the weight (load).
B) Lift with proper form – There is a big difference between lifting with your legs, butt and core, versus lifting by overextending with your low back. Practice good lifting form and check out this video about hip hinging technique.
Lastly, Check out this video for more info:
Throwing out one’s back is never pleasant but hopefully by following the easy treatments above, you’ll get back to your regular activities in no time!
Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM-CES), Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), Professional Dancer
As a long time back sufferer Leon found unique methods to alleviate his pain using natural methods including self massage, exercise/stretching and postural habits. He founded Backintelligence.com to empower others to fix their postures and ease their back pain from home.