Participating in sports is a great way to stay fit and healthy. But when a sports-related back injury happens, it can prevent you from performing at your peak and even limit your playing time.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Many sports injuries tend to be back related. Sudden awkward movements, lifting incorrectly or too heavy of weight, or continued wear and tear can put unnecessary strain on your back muscles. Strains, sprains and herniated disks are common sports-related back injuries.
The good news is that the majority of back injuries are acute, or short term, and should get better with little to no intervention. But once a back injury happens, you should follow a few simple rules for self-care and seek treatment when necessary to prevent your back injury from recurring.
How to Treat Back Pain
Despite your desire to sit and relax the muscles, resting for too long is actually the worst thing you can do for a back injury. Light aerobic activity, especially walking, swimming or riding a bike, will help keep your muscles loose and support blood flow and recovery.
Other at-home treatments to help you heal from a sports-related back injury, include:
- Limiting strenuous physical activity for the first few days
- Applying heat or ice to the hurt area
- Lying in a fetal position with a pillow between your legs to relieve pressure
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
Preventing Back Injuries
Regardless of whether you’ve already suffered a back injury or have never had one, here are a few tips to help support a healthy back and avoid injury.
- Strengthen your core muscles to maximize stability in your abdominal and lumbar region
- Use proper form whenever you are lifting or performing a certain movement
- Make sure to warm up and stretch before any exercise
- Stay within a healthy body weight range to reduce added stress
When to see a Specialist for Back Pain
As with most sports-related injuries, many people see an improvement in back pain symptoms with proper at-home care. However, there are some red flags to watch out for that may indicate you need to see a back specialist.
- Pain that gets worse
- Radiating pain or weakness in the legs
- Pain that persists longer than a month
- Changes in coordination and balance
- Changes in bladder or bowel control
If your pain persists longer than 4 weeks, your primary care physician may refer you to a spine specialist for further evaluation and imaging.
From conservative treatments like physical therapy and therapeutic injections to back surgery, our team of spine surgeons and physiatrist at Texas Orthopedics in Austin, TX can provide comprehensive care to get you back in the game.