It almost sounds strange to say, “Why Do I Get Mid-Back Pain During Bicep Curls?”
I mean, you’re training your biceps, so obviously you should be feeling it in your biceps.
Okay, I’ll admit that there are times when you may feel bicep curls in your forearms, wrists, elbows, and even shoulders.
But, surely not in the mid-back region?
However, you know as well as me that mid-back pain does occasionally occur when doing bicep curls.
So, allow me to explain the reasons why and how you can fix this.
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Mid-Back Pain During Bicep Curls
There are a number of reasons that you feel mid-back pain during bicep curls. This typically comes down to using momentum by swinging your upper back. If this is the case it’s likely that you’re trying to curl too much weight. You can counteract this by reducing the weight, performing bicep curls with your back against a wall, or using a staggered stance.
1. You’re Using Momentum During Bicep Curls
The most common reason that you experience mid-back pain during biceps curls is because you’re using momentum.
More specifically, you’re also using your back to curl the weight up.
This generally occurs if you’re not properly warmed up or if you’re trying to curl more weight than you can handle.
Firstly, most people typically perform a few lighter sets of bicep curls as a warm-up.
However, in truth, this is nowhere near enough.
Plus, once your biceps start to fatigue you’ll often use other muscles in order to curl the weight up.
Therefore, it makes sense to perform a full-body warm up, even if you are only training your biceps for that specific day.
Furthermore, you have to remember that your shoulders, traps, and back all need to stabilise when you’re holding a load in your hands.
So, it makes sense to warm these muscles up beforehand too.
With that being said, even if you have warmed up correctly, you may still be trying to curl too much weight.
If this is the case, you’re probably not using your biceps anymore to get the weight up, and it’s also likely that you’re swinging and using momentum.
You may not even notice it yourself, but I would hazard a guess that you’re rocking your torso forwards and backwards.
And unfortunately, this can eventually lead to straining your mid-back.
2. Try Bicep Curls Against a Wall
A great way to really isolate the biceps is to perform curls with your back against a wall.
Obviously, this will take any momentum or potential swinging of the weights out of the equation.
So immediately, you’re placing less stress on your shoulders, traps, and back.
It also makes sense to perform wall biceps curls with a lighter weight.
In fact, you may find the movement itself to be much harder.
If this is the case, it’s likely that you’ve always used momentum when performing bicep curls.
So, not only is there the potential for injury, but you’re also stifling any potential biceps growth.
For me, I always like to perform bicep curls slowly, while adhering to perfect form, and using a higher rep range.
If you can do this, while having your back against a wall, you’re likely to experience much better bicep growth, as well as remaining injury-free.
3. Try Staggered Stance Bicep Curls
A lot of issues caused while lifting weights can actually be down to poor posture.
And this can be made worse by the type of work you do, as well as the lifestyle you lead.
What I mean by this is that many of us tend to spend many hours a day sitting at a desk.
Furthermore, we’re constantly looking down at our phones.
If you add to this that the only real activity you do is visiting the gym a few times a week, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Basically, it’s likely that you have poor posture, your shoulders are rolled forwards, and you generally stand or sit with a slouch.
This can cause problems when performing many exercises, and this includes bicep curls.
You can obviously combat this, as I’ve mentioned above, by performing bicep curls with your back against a wall.
However, something else to try is doing curls with a staggered stance.
So, you’ll have one foot forward and the other foot back, which in turn will provide a more stable base.
Plus, as you start to fatigue, you’ll be far more aware of any use of momentum while in the staggered stance position.
Additionally, a staggered stance will require you to activate your core, which is extremely important whenever you lift weights.
4. Foam Roll Your Back
Okay, so it’s likely that you may have strained muscles in your mid-back if you’re using momentum or trying to curl too much weight.
However, the pain could actually stem from your lower traps or your rhomboids.
Furthermore, there are a lot of muscle fibres in this area, so it could be that the fibres have become trapped or entangled with each other.
In fact, this can be fairly common for many people in the mid-back area.
And unfortunately, this can be quite painful, and is typically exasperated when performing certain weighted exercises.
A great way to literally “unknot” your upper and mid-back, traps, and rhomboids, is to foam roll.
Plus, if you initially find foam rolling extremely painful, it’s an indication that you potentially have various muscle fibres tangled up or trapped.
Realistically, you should be foam rolling various muscle groups on a regular basis.
Some people choose to have a specific day dedicated to foam rolling.
However, I’ve found that as I get older, it makes more sense to do a quick 5-10 minute session every single day.
Trust me, it will do wonders for your body, and you’re less likely to feel aches, pains, and strains in the most unlikely of places.
I can pretty much guarantee that your mid-back will thank you for it, and it’s less likely to hurt during bicep curls.
Foam Roll – Mid Back (Thoracic) Rolling
So, as you can see, the main reason you experience mid-back pain during bicep curls is due to momentum.
What I mean by this is that it’s likely that your torso is moving forwards and backwards while you curl.
This immediately brings your back into the movement, and typically takes the focus away from your biceps.
Plus, this can actually be made worse if you start swinging the weights in order to get them up.
This usually means that you’re trying to lift too much weight, so it makes sense to reduce the weight.
Furthermore, you should try doing bicep curls with your back against a wall, or with a staggered stance, as this will remove the use of momentum.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.