The Athletic Spine: Athletic Back Pain explained
Lower back pain is the most common cause of spinal pain in the athletic population. Anyone that has experienced lower back pain knows how debilitating it can be. Often this type of injury can result in impaired performance, loss of training time and in some cases can prematurely end an athletes’ career. This article will discuss some causes of lower back pain in the athletic population.
Let’s simplify athletic lower back pain into two categories – traumatic and non-traumatic back pain.
Traumatic athletic back pain
This often occurs in high skill sports such as tackling sports, gymnastics, balance sports and snow sports where there are sudden combined movements and sudden increases in acceleration and load. Traumatic pain can often be prevented with appropriate protective equipment and rule modification. Injury minimisation/prevention training and strengthening can help to increase the load tolerance of body tissues to decrease the risk of injuries and this is best directed through your coach and physiotherapist to help optimise this towards your particular sport or hobby.
Non-traumatic athletic back pain
This is more our overuse and slower onset / insidious type of injury. This can be caused by overload of training volumes or load factors or it can be insidious onset over time through biomechanical factors. Non-specific lower back pain is another spinal condition in which there is no specific mechanism of injury however structures in the back become sensitised through a combination of non-traumatic factors, training patterns, elevated stress, lack of sleep or general fatigue for example.
Treating the athletes’ back pain requires a tailored approach that first identifies the cause and secondly provides management that is directed to their sporting needs as well as lifestyle.
If your spinal pain is impacting your training or competition – it is important to have the cause of the athletic back pain properly assessed as it requires a comprehensive approach to best manage your condition for optimal treatment, rehab and return to play. Lower back pain is complex and requires appropriate assessment to help direct the best treatment outcomes for your best performance and lifestyle.
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