Sports injuries & the back | Dr. Andrew Cash, MD Las Vegas, Nevada

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash, MD

We’re all told that healthy living starts with eating right and exercising.  Many people enjoy participating in sports and it helps them keep motivated to live an active, healthy lifestyle. However, sports activity comes with the responsibility to be attentive to your body and the strain it can potentially put on your back. Whether it’s running, golf, tennis, football, biking, hockey, or weightlifting, these can all be great activities to do to keep you in shape, but when done incorrectly, significant back pain or damage can occur.

How do I prevent injury to my spine while playing sports?

There are a variety of things you can do to help “warm up” your body before playing sports.  First, walk easily for a bit to help increase the flow of blood to your muscles and back ligaments.  This is easy to do and can really help in the long run.  Next, stretch.  Do some easy, simple stretches that flex your upper and lower back as well as your legs and arms.  In addition, start slowly – don’t jump into your sports activity at the fastest pace you can go.  This will not only tire you out, but will cause unnecessary strain to your back muscles.  For sports such as bicycling, weightlifting, running, golfing, or tennis, make sure your equipment is fit to meet your needs. For example, get the right running shoes.  Shoes that don’t fit you correctly can damage your feet, leg muscles, and in turn, your back muscles and spinal column.  For biking, be sure you have the right bike to match your purposes.   For sports such as weightlifting, make sure you’re lifting properly and not lifting too much too fast.  Exercises that extend or flex the back muscles can lead to stress fractures and ligament injury.

The bottom line:  exercise responsibly.  Start slowly, and be careful in your movements as much as possible.  Spinal cord injuries are not reversible so it’s important that you pay great attention to the care and well-being of your back.

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