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How To Deal With Back Pain In Sport

, 8 min reading time

What Are The Common Causes Of Back Pain In Sport?

In general the facet joints will be a likely cause of serious lower back pain. As they take a lot of strain through stability and movement which is heightened through extension and rotation. The 2nd major cause for lower back pain in sport is a prolapsed or herniated disc. The disc can pinch a nerve which can cause a condition called Sciatica. Consequently, giving the sports person sharp pains down through the glute muscles and into the leg. This is more common in older athletes though, as they enter the twilight phase of their sporting career.

It is less common to see back pain caused by a stress fracture, but, this has been known to be an issue with fast bowlers and rugby players. However most lower back pain is through ligament and muscle damage. This can be improved quite quickly by addressing your exercise routine.

Should I Use A Chiropractor Or Sports Therapist For Lower Back Pain Treatment?

To decide on the form of treatment for lower back pain, is determined by the correct diagnosis of the injury. In general a Chiropractor, Sports Therapist or Physio will be able to determine the type of injury. In addition they will be able to create a course of treatment, which may involve a referral for a scan.

There is a crossover of treatments provided by Chiropractors and Sports Therapists. Both practises will treat using a range of manipulation, mobilisation and soft tissue massage. The first priority would be to see either to get diagnosed professionally. It may be possible to seek a short consultation over the phone. This will determine the best form of treatment to seek.

Once your pain has been diagnosed, a schedule of treatment must be agreed. This will include a range of exercises and stretches to work on at home. A quality sports therapist should have information on their website to show how they can help with your treatment. They even have an article on how you can help yourself. Cardy Sports Clinic based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire have a great post on common causes of back pain

How To Protect Your Back When Playing Sports?

There are a number of ways you can protect your back when playing sport. Preparation is the key to avoid lower back pain by conditioning your body, before active sport takes place. Too many players fail to take the pre-match or pre-training routine seriously. Subsequently this is an area where injuries in general can be avoided. To get your body ready for play, you should always include some light cardio work followed by stretching. This allows the muscles to warm up sufficiently and reduces the risk of injury.

But you can prepare your body further, by engaging in exercises that will improve your core strength. You should also consider a range of exercises that will work on your flexibility too.

Activities To Help With Back Pain
  • Pilates or Yoga is great for improving core strength and flexibility. Pilates is growing in popularity but clubs could look to add a specific session to their weekly training. If trying from home, a yoga mat is a cheap purchase and will make the exercises much more comfortable
  • Swimming is a perfect aerobic exercise without adding to much strain to the body. It also improves your cardio and conditions your core and the muscles supporting your lower back. It is a useful tool for reduction of swelling, due to hydrostatic pressure.
  • Warm Up drills are there for a reason and should be taken seriously. Whilst not pushing the body to hard, as it should be remembered these are to prepare the body for exercise.
  • Improving your fitness prior to active sport. If you have taken a period of time away from your sport, then you should ensure you are sport fit to return to action. A long winter break will ensure your body needs to build up to the activity rather than jumping straight in. Failing to prepare your body sufficiently, is a risk that is highly likely to result in injury.
Why A Warm Up Is Essential To Reduce Back Pain In Sport.

Too often, a warm up is not taken seriously enough or skipped completely. A warm up conditions the body for the higher intensity exercise that is likely to follow. Warm up exercises are at a lower intensity and slower pace, which should increase blood flow to the muscles. The benefits of a warm up are often overlooked by players and coaches and include

  • Mental and physical preparation. During the physical warm coaches can also engage players with their mental preparation too.
  • Improve muscle efficiency. Muscles demand more oxygen when exercising. So, by completing a structured warm up allows the muscles to work at a higher level. As the body warms up an increase of oxygen is released from the blood flow. So it is important to make this oxygen available for your muscles to use.
  • Injury prevention. Decent warm ups help prevent injury as it loosens up your joints and improves the blood flow within the muscles.
  • Improved muscle recovery. A warm up increases the body temperature, which benefits the muscles potential to work at a higher level. It also allows the muscles to recovery quicker following short bursts of energy, such as sprinting.
What Warm Up Exercises Are Good For Preventing Back Injury?

It is essential that the whole body is prepared fully, prior to extensive exercise. However, your core is a key part of your body which allows all muscles to function efficiently. By working on specific areas of your body during the warm up, will improve your performance overall. Key stretches that can be used in your warm up, to prevent back injuries include

Exercising For Injury Prevention
  • Cat stretch
  • Downward dog stretch
  • Spiderman stretch
  • Reach for the sky stretch ( this stretches the back and should muscles)
  • Touch your toes or palms to the floor. (This stretches the hamstring and lower back muscles)
  • Glute bridge (Lay on your back and bring your feet up towards your glutes. Then slowly raise your hips to the air and gently lower)
  • Side to side (Lay flat on your back and bring you feet up to the bottom. Then rotate your hips so your knees go towards the floor left and then right side)

All of the exercises above should be taken slowly and carefully. If you feel any pain stop and seek advice from the sports physio or first aider.

What Sports Suffer The most Back Injuries?

There are many reasons a player may suffer from back pain in sport. This might not have anything to do with the actual sport being played. For example, someone who sits at a desk all week and has a poor posture could be susceptible to a bad back. A player may have over-exercised during the week and the body might be at the limit.

football players lying down

Sports that require lots of bending and impact through tackling, have a higher risk factor than other sports.

  • Rugby
  • Combat sports (Judo...etc)
  • Hockey
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Even bowls can cause back injuries. (With the risk of being controversial, this may be age related)

The list is endless and if you fail to prepare adequately, then you are more likely to suffer from an injury. These are injuries that could be prevented.


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