Sports Activities

Sports Activities

Back Care during Sports Activities


Grace Hughes - March 2005

Individuals who engage in controlled and responsible physical exercise, show
reduced risk of back pain as well as improved posture and overall improved health.
Physiotherapists agree that prevention and treatment of back pain requires correct
and regular exercise. However, they caution that back injuries can occur during,
or be aggravated by sports participation if adequate care is not taken. Up to
90% of the population will suffer from back pain during their lives, and engaging
in sport is not enough to ensure immunity.

What is important in the exercise routine is that the muscles which support
the spinal column (sometimes called core or stabilising muscles), are fit enough
to sustain the additional load placed on your body. Some activities when performed
correctly and under the guidance of a physiotherapist, like walking, swimming,
pilates and yoga are often prescribed as an exercise to strengthen these core
muscles and are therefore ideal “back” sports. Professor Tim Noakes
has often made the distinction between sports used to get fit and sports for
which one must first get fit. Generally speaking sports like walking, swimming,
pilates and yoga can be used to get fit, while rugby, long distance running
and hockey require back fitness before participation to avoid injury.

Adequate core, or stabilising muscle fitness is uncommon in the modern population
as most of us have lost it through poor posture, inadequate exercise and prolonged
periods of sitting and driving. These important and complex supporting muscles
need to be specifically rehabilitated to provide the strength and stability
your spine needs to participate injury free in sport.

A good precaution is to have yourself assessed by a physiotherapist before
starting any new exercise programme, so as to identify risk factors for back
pain as well as to be certain that you’re on a safe and effective programme.
Sports vary enormously in the type and intensity of demand they place on your
back - therefore the preparation, warm-up routine, flexibility and strength
training will vary accordingly. If one does not get the correct advice, you’re
obviously more at risk for injury.

Whatever activity you decide to do; do it soon, do it correctly and do it often.
Good fitness leads to a good back.

Compiled for the SASP by

Grace Hughes, Kwa-Zulu Natal

March 2005

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