Types of Sports-Related Back Injuries
When participating in any sport, injuries to any part of the spine are possible, as well as injuries to the soft tissue and fascia that help comprise the makeup of the body. Up to 20% of all injuries that occur in sports involve an injury to the lower back or neck.
Lower Back Injury
The lower back is subject to a great deal of strain in many sports. Sports that use repetitive impact (e.g. running), a twisting motion (e.g. golf), or weight loading at the end of a range-of-motion (e.g. weightlifting) commonly cause damage to the lower back.
The neck is most commonly injured in sports that involve contact (e.g. rugby), which place the cervical spine (neck) at risk of injury.
Upper Back Injury
The thoracic spine (mid portion of the spine at the level of the rib cage) is less likely to be injured because it is relatively immobile and has extra support. Injuries seen here can involve rib fracture and intercostal neuralgia as well as intercostal muscle strains in sports that involve rotation of the torso (e.g. weight training with rotation), swimming, golf, tennis and even skiing.
Stretching and Warm Up Prior to Exercise
While static stretching prior to any type of exercise used to be recommended, a number of studies in recent years have shown that stretching the muscles prior to exercise is not needed. A number of studies have shown that it does not help prevent injury, and likely does no harm either.
For every sport, a thorough warm-up should be completed before starting to play. The warm-up will target the muscles used in that sport, but it should also prepare the back for the stresses to come.
The warm-up used should be specific to the sport to be played. A typical warm-up should include:
Work with a Professional to Prevent or Manage Back Injury
Chiropractors treat and can help prevent injuries of the neck, back, shoulder, knee, and ankle. They’re skilled in manual adjustment of the spine, ensuring that bones are lined up and balanced, which helps relieve tension in the body. This allows the body to function better and become less susceptible to injury. The goal of most chiropractic techniques is to restore or enhance joint function while resolving joint inflammation and reducing pain. This hands-on therapy is often used to treat neck or back injuries but also relieves pain throughout the joints and muscles in the body.
1."Does stretching in your warm up prevent injury?", accessed via Peak Performance Online, copied from Georgia Tech Sports Medicine & Performance Newsletter.
2.Schrier I, "Stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of local muscle injury: a critical review of the clinical and basic science literature," Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 1999, 9(4):221-227, accessed via UK PubMed Central.
3.”STATF Announces Results of Pre-run Stretch Study,” USA Track & Field, 8/20/2010, accessed via USA Track& Field.