T Nation

Lower Back Issues from Bench?


About 2 months ago, i did a bench spec routine where i did bench 3-4 times per week.

just at about the completion, i noticed my lower back was pretty sore to the touch, right in the center in L3-2. Im thinking it was from having too great of an arch while benching. the pain is still there, not really better or worse.

been to lots and lots of doctors, chiros, ART, Xrays.

my question is, what is wrong? Xrays didnt show anything weird or out of place. just curious as to what exactly irritates the lumbar when hyper extending.


the arch should come from your thoracic region rather than your lumbar region. you also need to have your hip flexors fairly well stretched out in order to activate your glutes (which probably helps protect your lumbar region from hyper-extension).

if you are extending your lumbar region then that tells you you are compensating for lack of flexibility of the hips and / or the thoracic spine. hyper-extending your lumbar region can result in injury.

x-rays don't show soft tissue, they just show bone. x-rays can give you information about the spinal bones coming into contact or whatever (when the person is in the position they are in for the x-rays). they can't give you information about soft tissue strain. they can't give you information about whether you are painfully jamming your bones when you set up for bench since the x-rays aren't taken when you are in the position of set up for bench.


if you take some side on vids of your bench set-up then people should be able to offer you some feedback on your arch. it might just be that you were coming up about time for a deload. or it might be that there is something problematic about your set-up position.


i should clarify, its affecting not just my bench, but also other lifts, and well, daily life.

any type of flexion bothers it to a degree too


Interesting... I had always thought the recommendation of "arching your back" when benching simply referred to the lumbar region, not the thoracic. It had never really occured to me that the thoracic region could really be arched independently of the lumbar region- is this just bascially the idea of "chest up and out"? What about arching during squats/deadlifts? Are we talking the same thing?


Lumbar should be stable, while you want mobility in thoracic spine.



stability of lumbar
mobility of thoracic

it is surely possible to mobilize the thoracic spine and hips independently of the lumbar region. same idea for squats - set your lumbar arch then the job of your core is to maintain your lumbar arch under load (basically to stop your lumbar region from moving).

lying back over a gym ball can help stretch out / mobilize the thoracic. same deal with a foam roller. just your thoracic region, though. don't try and mobilize the cervical or lumbar regions.