How Athletes Can Prevent Lower Back Pain

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Athletes Spinal Stress Fractures

Athletes tend to be in better shape than the average person, but that doesn’t mean they’re less likely to have back pain. In fact, because of all they put their bodies through in order to be ready for the rigors of their sport, there’s a good chance that they may deal with low back pain more frequently than normal. With that in mind, we share some tips for how athletes can help protect their spine against common causes of lower back pain.


Overexertion is one of the leading causes of spine pain in athletes, because they consistently push themselves to peak performance, and that can have lasting effects on their body. Back pain from overexerting oneself can develop in a couple of different ways. Some athletes can suffer an acute injury, like if they take a knee to the back while diving for a loose ball, while others can suffer repetitive stress injuries over a longer period of time, like if you don’t give your body enough time off between practices, games and training. Slowly increase your workload and listen to your body. If something hurts, back off on your activity levels and consider physician intervention.

Weight Lifting

Weight lifting is a crucial part of any athlete’s training program to help them get faster and stronger, but it can also be a source of injury. There are two main ways that athletes suffer an injury in the gym – from improper form, from attempting too much weight, or a combination of the two. If you’re lifting in a gym with trainers or you have athletic trainers associated with your sports team, make sure they are helping ensure you’re lifting with proper techniques to help prevent strains. Have someone watch your form and look for signs of a problem. Also, similar to the overexertion point, slowly increase your weight limit when trying heavier lifts. Not only will it be harder on our bodies to lift that much, but oftentimes our form suffers as lifts get heavier. You don’t need to try a new maximum lift every week, in fact, you’ll see more progression with better lifts of lesser weight that doesn’t compromise your form. Weight training should strengthen your spine, not increase its risk of injury.

Core Problems

Weight lifting and sport-based drills make up the majority of an athlete’s off-field training, but they should never overlook the importance of a strong core. Your core muscles help to support your spine and prevent injuries during high-intensity movements. Training sessions shouldn’t just involve weights, they should also involve planks, medicine ball work, wall sits and other activities that strengthen your core and in turn protect your spine.

Resistance To Assistance

A final factor that contributes to an athlete’s likelihood of developing spine pain is a resistance to assistance. Far too often athlete’s put the team goals ahead of their individual health, and that can lead to them attempting to play through injuries. “Toughing it out” with an injury can make it more significant and lead to a much longer time away from the game. Don’t let small injuries snowball into medical emergencies because you didn’t want to sit out a few practices or games. If something hurts, speak up or set up an appointment with a doctor. You can’t help the team to the best of your abilities if you’re playing through an injury, so put your health first and stop small problems in their tracks.

For more tips on how athletes can work to prevent spine pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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