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What Causes Back Cramps?

Injury is the most common cause of back pain.
Improperly lifting heavy objects can cause back cramps.
The muscles of the back.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
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Back cramps can be painful and debilitating, and can be caused by a number of different things. Injury to the back, such as a pulled muscle, is one of the most common causes of back cramps. Poor posture, overexertion through exercise, improper lifting methods, or even menstrual cramps can all cause back pain as well, however, in addition to issues with the vertebrates of the spine.

The most common cause of back cramps is physical injury. It is easy to injure the back if one does not warm up properly before exercising, or if one attempts to lift something that is too heavy. Before lifting anything, it is important to bend from the knees, and to be sure to use the muscles of the arms and chest rather than the back. Ideally, the lower back should not be used at all when doing any heavy lifting.

In addition, though it is important to stretch after every workout, it is important to stretch properly. Hinge from waist, for example, feeling the stretch in the back of the legs. Do not round the upper back or overextend the lower back; it is all too easy to pull a muscle when trying to stretch in that manner. If back pain does not appear to be muscular in nature, it may be necessary to visit a doctor to rule out any spinal problems.

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Wearing improper shoes all day, sitting incorrectly in a chair, or practicing poor posture can all lead to back cramps as well. Be sure to wear shoes that support the arches of the feet, and whether sitting or standing, attempt to keep the hips, shoulders, and ears in alignment. The spine features a number of natural curves; do not try to diminish these curves, simply allow the spine to remain in a neutral position, and do not round the shoulders. Stretching the arms up above the head and to the sides can help to stretch a tired spine.

Back cramps can often be relieved by heat. A heating pad or hot bath or shower can help to relax the muscles and eliminate the cramp. Muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory over-the-counter drugs can also help to relieve back cramps, especially if they are caused by menstrual cramps. Massage to release any knots in the muscles can also be very helpful as well at relieving back cramps and eliminating stress and tension, which can make cramps worse.

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Discuss this Article

anon947732
Post 4

I am suffering from back pain at the bottom of my spinal cord area. It happened when I pulled the motor bike from a standing position to ride it this morning. Now the pain in my back is more severe while I get ready bed and getting up and while walking. What should I do to be all right?

sneakers41
Post 3

@Crispety - I didn’t know that you could get lower back pain from running. It makes sense if your posture is off.

I just wanted to add that the last time I felt lower back pain and cramps was when I was pregnant. I was getting back cramps during the end of my pregnancy and at first I didn’t know that I was getting close to going into labor.

The pain was awful but it only lasted for a minute or so and then it would completely go away. When I started to get close to going into labor the frequency of these painful intervals would increase.

I just tried to do my deep breathing exercises until the pain went away. The hardest thing about this back cramping is that you can’t sleep because it continues to come back. I remember when I went to the hospital because of my back labor, they gave me some sleep medication because the pain was getting stronger and stronger and I was not even close to giving birth.

Crispety
Post 2

@Moldova - I know what you mean, I have had food poisoning before and it was awful. I wanted to add that I sometimes get back muscle cramps when I run if I maintain the wrong posture.

I have a tendency of leaning forward when I run which hurts my hips and lower back and I usually feel it later on when I get ready for bed.

I am usually fine until I go to bed at night. I usually have my husband apply a little bit of muscle rub to my lower back area. The heat from the topical medication helps to numb the pain and lets me sleep. I usually try to stay off my feet for a few days until it resolves itself.

Sometimes I overdo it a little and try to run faster to beat my previous time and forget about my form. There are times when I get upper back cramps too, but that usually happens when I use dumbbells and lift weight that is too heavy for me and it throws off my form.

That is a really uncomfortable feeling too because you can't get into a position to rest comfortably because it hurts from all angles.

Moldova
Post 1

I remember getting stomach and back cramps when I got food poisoning. It was awful. I had this incredibly sharp pain that originated in my lower back that wrapped around my stomach area. I then started to feel dizzy and a little clammy and then began to vomiting. It was terrible.

The weird thing is that in this case the cramping began in the back and then went to the front instead of just remaining in the stomach area. I was sick for a few days and really don’t wish this condition on anyone.

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