All individuals that participate in some form of sports or athletic training, professionals to weekend sports enthusiasts are at risk for back and neck injuries. Common injuries include strains, and sprains, pulls, and tears especially around the low back area. If left untreated these injuries can lead to chronic back pain or more severe conditions.
Although we can’t prevent all sports injuries, here are some sports tips to keep your spine healthy.
1. Warm-Up and Stretch
Properly warming up with stretching exercises increases blood circulation and improves the flexibility of muscles and ligaments. This is not only for helping enhance athletic performance but prevents injuries by keeping the muscles/ligaments loose so if any type of collision, tear, or pull occurs the stretched muscles stay relaxed and do not tense up or contract, which helps reduce the severity of an injury. To stretch properly:
- Stretch slowly, gently and just to where you feel mild tension.
- Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds
- Stretch time on each part of the body is also 10-30 seconds
- Stretch after the game to relieve sore or tight muscles
2. Use Proper Sport Equipment
All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact there is the higher the risk of injury.
To reduce the risk of injury athletes should wear protective equipment that goes with their sport like neck rolls, shoulder, elbow and knee pads.
Well made and supportive shoes combined with custom orthotics are a must.
Other types of equipment include:
- Pads elbow, wrist, chest, knee, shins
- Protective cup
- Eye protection
3. Stay Hydrated
Injuries caused by heat occur as a result of high temperatures, humidity and excessive/overdoing it. To avoid these serious injuries:
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after playing.
- Try to avoid play or practice during extreme heat and humidity.
- Wear lightweight clothing/uniform with maximum ability to allow sweat to evaporate.
- Take plenty of breaks or periods of rest to allow the body to recover and recuperate.
4. Don’t Overwork/Overdo it
Repetitive Motion Disorders like tennis elbow, bursitis, and tendonitis, happen when movements e.g. swinging motions that go with the sport like tennis, bowling, golf, etc are repeated over and over and cause injury/damage to those parts of the body. To avoid overuse injury try:
- Take plenty of breaks during practice and games. Do not power through it!
- Use proper/correct form and techniques. If unsure then take lessons to make sure you are doing it correctly.
- See a doctor if any pain or muscle fatigue, inflammation, swelling, or compression of nerve tissue present.
- Cross-training can strengthen muscle groups and those areas that take the most force.
5. Stay Ready for Play with a Healthy Lifestyle
Besides sports, try to find ways to improve general health through a healthy lifestyle:
- Get plenty of sleep, the body/mind needs to recover from all the activity.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet.
- Avoid excessive alcohol use.
- Get into a sports chiropractic maintenance program to keep the body in tip-top shape.
Consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Staying fit, healthy and ready for play means preventing injuries from happening. By being aware of how to prevent injuries with these basic tips, which feel free to take it further and raise the probability of avoiding back and all sports injuries.
As El Paso’s Chiropractic Rehabilitation Clinic & Integrated Medicine Center, we passionately are focused on treating patients after frustrating injuries and chronic pain syndromes. We focus on improving your ability through flexibility, mobility and agility programs tailored for all age groups and disabilities.
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Extension sports like gymnastics, tennis, swimming, diving, football, volleyball, basketball, track and field, cricket have the most pronounced extension/rotation on the spine. With a normal extension of the lumbar spine (or backward bending), the facet joints begin to approximate each other and compress. This is a normal biomechanical movement. However, if the extension ranges are excessive, the procedures will impinge quite aggressively and damage to the cartilage surfaces within the facet joint can result.