Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 17, 2016
The high school track season is underway, and soon athletes from all across the state will be running, jumping and throwing against one another. Track and field is a great way to stay in shape as the school year comes to a close, but it can be taxing on a developing teen’s body. Today, we’re going to share a few tips for keeping your spine healthy leading up to, during, and after a track meet.
Practice Before Practice
If you’re really serious about the season, you’ll want to start practicing before the season begins. You can’t expect to show up on Day 1 and be as fit as you were when last year’s season ended, so spend the weeks leading up to track practice in the weight room or running laps around the gym. If you try to jump into practice without preparing for the physical demands, you’re putting yourself at a heightened risk for injury.
Similar to the above point, it’s crucial that you allow your spine and legs to warm up before you jump into activity. Most coaches start track practice with a stretching routine, but if you know you’re prone to back pain, get out to the track a little earlier so you can do some stretching on your own. Do some trunk twists, bend at the waist and touch your toes, and rotate your neck in slow circles to warm up each part of your spine.
Practice and meets will take a toll on your body, so consider controlling the pain with some type of over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatory. That said, some schools have a very strict policy when it comes to possession of any type of drug, even if it’s something as simple as Ibuprofen. Clear it with your school first, but sometimes spine pain can be kept in check if you get out ahead of it with OTC medications. Do not get in the habit of taking pain relievers after every practice, but if you feel pain coming on or you tweaked something that day, OTC medications can be helpful.
Don’t Overdo It
Overuse injuries are the most common injuries that fell track and field athletes, which is another reason why training and stretching is important. But you’ll always want to toe a fine line between pushing yourself to be your best and overdoing it and hurting your spine. Some discomfort is normal after a grueling event, but it should subside after a few hours or by the end of the day, but is pain lingers or you ever feel shooting pain, consider taking a few days off or skipping a meet. You’re not going to be at your best if you’re pushing yourself through an injury, and you won’t want to jeopardize your season because you tried to tough it out for one meet.
The Trainers Are Your Friend
You’ll likely have a team trainer or a medical assistant, and you need to remember that they are there to help your through any pain you might be experiencing. The trainer and therapists are specially trained in understanding muscle groups and bodily functions, so speak to them about soreness or injuries. Oftentimes they can teach you new stretches or targeted exercises to combat specific areas of your back that are in pain. Don’t be afraid to regularly visit their office.