Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Hi K and A: I read your article on kickboxing and back pain and was looking to get some follow-up advice. I have been working out since my mother threatened me from atop her bathroom scale that puberty would eventually “catch up to me” and I would one day lose my little waify ‘tween bod. I started shadow boxing (first with “kickbutt” and next with P90x) in college when I realized my mother was wrong — it was really beer that caught up to me.
I took such a liking to shadowboxing that I tried 10 classes of heavy bag training. It was love at first punch. However, as I am, and will continue to be for some unknown number of years, a grad student I couldn’t pay to train at any boxing gym. Thus, I bought a 70 lb heavy bag and started a little home gym set up for myself. It’s been 6 months and I’ve started to get killer back pain. I do my best not to flail around but sometimes I hyperextend my joints. Any tips for improving form on my own and helping myself after an injury? Thanks for the help! Elena, the Tofu Tumbler, Bradley Beach, New Jersey
Hi Elena aka Tofu Tumbler: We are so glad you got value from our post. Whether you are in your 20s or 60s, back pain is hard to stomach. Ok, that was a bad word play. However, our answer is good! For sure it’s better than that beer that stalked you so mercilessly.
It is hard for us to know whether your form is the cause of your back pain since we have not seen you work out. However, we can say that it is likely that attacking a 70 pound bag with anything less than fantastic form can aggravate backs, knees, and joints. Your complaint is quite common, unfortunately.
Tip 1 = Make Abs Your Fiancé and Engage Them
Meantime, let’s try to figure out what might be going on. How strong are your abs and how much do you train them? Not how good do they look, but how functionally strong is your midsection? Next time you kickbox or punch bags pay good attention to how much you engage your abs as you strike. The more the abs take on the load, the less the back does so. Basically, your major muscles come in pairs (fancy term you can throw out at the party punch bowl is agonist/ antagonist). If your ab muscles are not helping out, then their buddy, the back muscles are picking up the work slack. Two employees, but only one is working. Overtime. And peeved about it!
Try this back safe core move from our video series. Very little spinal flexion is needed and you get to leave your head on the ground!
Tip 2 = Tape Up (on video, not with first aid tape) ha ha aha
Have you tried videotaping yourself? Even a poor quality video might reveal habits you are unaware of. If you are locking out joints, the impact has to be absorbed somewhere. A look at yourself in motion might show if/ when you are hyperextending and where that impact is traveling. Use your phone camera and get footage from the front, back, and sides as you are working out. Zoom in for close ups of your torso as your hands and feet make contact with the bag.
Tip 3 = Be aware, which is the first step to assessment and improvement.
What doesn’t hurt and always helps? Any of the following actions:
2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.