Many people use sports participation as a mode of exercise to help achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, injuries often go together with sports participation, and injuries to the spine are part of these occurrences. Up to 20% of sports injuries affect the spine, predominantly happening in the lumbar (low back) and cervical (neck) regions. Thoracic (mid back) injuries happen less frequently because of the area’s reduced mobility and reinforced support.
Activities that most often cause low back damage are repetitive sports, such as running; those involving twisting of the torso, like golf; and sports that require high resistance at the end range of motion, such as weight lifting. Football is a common cause of neck injuries due to its repeated and violent contact. Bicycling is another activity that causes neck problems due to the sitting position an individual is in during riding. Swimming, tennis, golf, and tennis can trigger mid back issues because they involve torso rotation.
One of the best methods of preventing injury in any sport involves incorporating an appropriate warm-up period before engaging in the activity. Light aerobic exercise such as walking or slow jogging helps to gradually elevate the heart rate, which will increase blood circulation to the back muscles and ligaments, thereby reducing stiffness and increasing range of motion. Next, follow-up with active stretching for both upper and lower back, as well as the hamstrings and quadriceps. Complete the warm-up with sport-specific motions performed at a slow speed.
The second part of injury prevention involves partnering with a certified athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, biomechanist, kinesiologist, or personal trainer. A professional certified by the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength Conditioning Association will have the knowledge and expertise to instruct people regarding proper sport-specific conditioning techniques to help reduce the risk of harm. The prevalence of injury greatly decreases when individuals focus on getting in shape to play sports, rather than using sports to get in shape.
If you have sustained a back or neck injury from sports participation and would like to learn about treatment solutions we provide, please contact us at our Seguin or New Braunfels offices.