All sports are inherently risky, and if they’re not, then they’re not really sports, are they? Of course, this shouldn’t deter you from practicing, as regular exercise and plenty of activity is not only beneficial to the body, but also lifts the spirit and improves your life-quality.
Naturally, most any sport will cause some stress to your spine, leading to back pain if the ligaments and muscles that support it aren’t properly looked after. That’s why it’s important to stretch and exercise regularly.
However, some sports are more taxing than others, so it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of it, and how exactly they relate to back pain. The list is not organized in any order of degree, so you can read it point by point or skip to the part that interests you the most.
Even though biking is one of the most popular aerobic exercises, the muscles supporting your spine might disagree. For one, it requires you to bend your lower spine while arching the upper back. This puts an inordinate amount of strain on your upper back and neck, especially for long periods of time. Granted, it’s less jarring than other aerobics, such as jogging and aerobics class, provided you avoid mountain and any kind of rough terrain biking.
So, what can you do to prevent back injuries from biking? The first thing you do is find the best bike for your body and purpose. Go for something that allows you to remain in a more-or-less upright position. Secondly, get bigger tires for better shock absorption (less jarring). Expand this to all other bike accessories – seat, front fork, handlebars, etc . Of course, you should also gently lift and lower your head to loosen the neck.
Bodybuilding and Weightlifting
Both bodybuilding and weightlifting are quite taxing for your back muscles, but the latter can be outright dangerous if not done properly. This applies particularly to people of certain age, who may notice disc degeneration, as well as osteoarthritis, which makes them all the more vulnerable to strains.
One of the ways to prevent this is by using less weight while doing more repetitions. It’ll get the same results, and the only thing that’ll hurt might be your pride, and even that only for a little while. Whatever you do, always seek a professional opinion before and during.
We’ll preface this by saying that golf is a low-impact aerobic activity. However, it also opens a lot of space for lower back injuries and possibly long-lasting pain. This is caused by the sudden movement in a full golf swing, as it rotates the spine with a good deal of force and very little control. As the muscles, especially those in lumbar region strain to follow up, they may suffer strain.
How to prevent this? Simply – just warm up with a series of gentle, slow swings before the game. Rinse and repeat. Also, since even bending for the ball carries some risk, you should take your granddad’s advice and “lift from the knees” – don’t bend over, but rather bend at the knees to pick up the ball.
Running, although popular and fairly low-impact, still causes some strain to your spine, due to the jarring effect that comes with every step. Moreover, as any good coach will tell you, it’s important to keep the body upright while running, which puts even more strain on the muscles involved.
There are a few things you can do to prevent or alleviate pain in this case – for starters, you should use quality running shoes. Find a pair that’ll provide lots of cushioning and help absorb the shocks that come with every step. Secondly, try running on softer surfaces – grass, dirt, padded tracks, and avoid asphalt and concrete if at all possible.
Skiing puts a lot of strain on the lower back muscles, as well as your abdominal muscles. Moreover, wearing all the heavy equipment that the sport requires also puts additional load on your body. And let’s not even talk about falling while skiing and the jarring effects it causes.
This may be prevented, to a degree, by properly warming up prior to hitting the slopes, and, more importantly, exercising before even choosing the mountain. Choosing the slopes that fit your skill level seems prudent, as well.
Neck is somewhat at risk while swimming, mostly due to repetitive jerks during front strokes, as you take breaths between strokes. Also, the lower back can be overexerted during front strokes.
If you want to prevent back pain during swimming, it is preferable to use back or side strokes. If however, you’re a competitive swimmer, one sure way to go about this is keeping the body level with water, and avoid lifting the head, keeping it straight, rather.
Tennis is probably one of the most exacting sports of today, and injuries among players, professional and amateur alike, are not uncommon. For one, front- and backhands require much contortion, twisting the spine and putting an inordinate amount of tension on the muscles and joints involved. Also, the serve hyperextends the lower back, compressing lumbar discs, causing much stress to the spine, not to mention the effort of the constant back-and-forth of the whole match.
Is there a way to prevent this? Well, using a slice serve instead of the kick serve will lessen the degree of back arch, but it also might impair your game. Also, remember to keep proper form – knees bent, stomach in, the works. Whatever you do, ask a professional for advice.
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