Well, I’ve gone and strained my back muscles a couple of weeks ago and now I’m on the road to recovery. If you’re looking to find out what a strained back muscle recovery time is, let me tell you my recent story.
If you’ve been exercising or lifting for any amount of time you know that at some point, you might push a little too hard and end up with some pretty good muscle pain. If you’re just getting started in your fitness journey, I’ll be the first to tell you that at some point you’re going to overdo it and you’ll be stuck on the sidelines waiting for an injury to heal.
The Back Back Pain Incident
On a Saturday a few weeks ago I was doing a light leg day workout (How to Tone Legs Without Bulking Up). Earlier in the week, I had hit the legs pretty well, so now I was just doing a light workout. This leg day consisted of leg extensions, leg curls, dumbbell goblet squats, lunges, and sled pushes.
The previous user had left several plates on the sled and didn’t take them off, so I just used the same weight and lowered the sled resistance all the way down. Not a big deal. By the time the workout was done, I had worked up a sweat and was feeling good.
Then Sunday morning rolled around and I was hurting pretty good. I didn’t think too much of it, since I wasn’t planning my next leg day until Monday or maybe Tuesday. I tend to an upper/lower body split with a heavier and a lighter workout day and then mix in cardio once or twice. This split gives me 4 days of resistance training and 1 or 2 days of cardio. I almost always try to take Sunday off for a rest day (Active Recovery vs Rest Days).
Anyway, Sunday rolled into Monday and now my back was hurting worse. I realized this wasn’t a good sign especially since I didn’t feel anything that would cause such soreness. Every once in a while you can tell when you’ve hit it pretty hard and you can expect that soreness, but my Saturday workout didn’t have any of those inclinations. I felt fine walking out of the gym after my workout.
Now two days had passed and I was walking around like a I had carried a pack up Mt. Everest. The next few days passed and the pain wasn’t subsiding, and it definitely wasn’t getting any better, like a typical over-fatigued muscle. I went the entire week without going to the gym and was feeling very guilty.
If you’re an avid lifter you can probably relate to the feeling of guilt of skipping an entire week of not working out.
The next weekend rolled around and I was still hurting, so I decided to make an appointment with a doctor.
Doctors Advice on Back Pain & Recovery
Luckily I was able to get in on a Tuesday, which was about 1.5 weeks after my Saturday workout. The doctor I had happened to be a spine specialist so I was put through a series of tests, checking for spine alignment, slipped disc, neurological indications and she also mentioned I had gained a few pounds since the last visit!
At the end of the appointment, she asked what I had been doing to help alleviate the pain, and this is where I get to the recovery time aspect of this story. I told her I had been doing daily stretches, walking short distances a few times a day, using a pain reliever as well as a CBD/THC rub that I put on my lower back.
The doctor agreed with my tactics and also advised that I keep to my walking and stretching schedule, and to avoid the gym for another full week. obviously, this was difficult to hear as I love my exercise time. But to go against doctors’ orders is not something I’m looking to do. Especially if this will only delay my back pain recovery time.
After a discussion about what I was looking to get from the visit, I was prescribed an oral steroid to help with the inflammation. She also offered a pain killer, but I’m not a fan of pain killers so I declined.
At the time I was taking 600mg of Ibuprofen and told her I would rather take Ibuprofen over a beefed-up pain pill. She said that would be fine, but I would most likely need to double the amount to 1200mg per day and take it for the next couple of weeks.
I had the option of taking Ibuprofen for two weeks or the oral steroid for one week. I picked the oral steroid. She mentioned the oral steroid would act as a pain killer since it would reduce the inflammation in my back.
So when you ask about a strained back muscle recovery time, I would say it will take about 1-2 weeks based on my experience. This time frame could differ depending on how badly you strain your back.
Another item I would highly suggest is to give your body plenty of time to rest. I have plenty of friends that are physical therapists, and they tell me a majority of the time, the patient just needs to take more time off and quit trying to rush back into what gave them the pain in the first place.
For me, I want to get back to running, hiking, and exercising. But I also know that this is a short-term want or gratification. And it could be at the expense of delaying my back pain recovery or worse yet, causing additional long-term pain. And back pain isn’t something you want to be messing with.
Back Pain Recovery Timeline
If I was to give a short synopsis of what you should do to help alleviate your back pain this is what I learned from my most recent experience.
- Take it slow.
- Do some yoga stretching, if you can do it without significant pain.
- Take a mile walk 2-3 times a day. Avoid any hills.
- Use an OTC pain reliever if you’re comfortable doing that.
- Drink plenty of fluids (How to Drink a Gallon of Water Each Day).
- The CBD/THC rub I put on my back wasn’t ground breaking but it took the edge off. After about 30 minutes of putting it on, I could feel a difference in pain.
- If the pain doesn’t subside after a week or longer, it might be time to see a doctor.
Strangely enough, after I left the doctors office, my back pain had just started to reduce a little bit that night. Not sure if that was just how it played out, or if it was some kind of placebo effect, now knowing my back pain wasn’t anything serious. Either way, as long as the back pain was subsiding, I’ll take it.
Conclusion of Strained Back Muscle Recovery Time
With my background and love of health and fitness, I really think I did the correct things in relieving my back pain. I still don’t know for sure exactly what I did, but the doctor says I most likely went overboard with the sled or possibly used too much weight. As I get older, I’m aware that I can’t go as hard as I want to, or as hard as I used to. I’m also coming to realize that if I do push it too hard, my body will push back, and it will push back hard.