6 popular sports and their influence on back health
Physical activity speeds up the metabolism, which in turn speeds up the healing process. Chronic back pain should not be a reason to resign from doing recreational sports, but we should think carefully about what the best activity for our spine is. Above all, we should train under the supervision of a qualified trainer or physiotherapist (at least at the beginning). This will help to reduce the risk of pain occurrence during and/or after physical activity, as the pain may result from a bad exercise technique, or poor activity choice. When choosing a sport we should take into consideration our physiotherapist’s opinion as they know best the cause of the pain, and how to avoid deterioration of the condition. Below we describe 6 of the most popular sport disciplines, and how they influence the back.
Swimming is a form of activity which due to buoyancy (where your perceived body weight is just 10% of your actual weight) helps to unburden intervertebral discs, while simultaneously keeping the upper and lower limbs active. Added to that, cold water helps to strengthen your organism. However, it is not a sport without restrictions. You need to be careful during breaststroke, as a poor technique can cause pain due to the extensive increase in lumbar lordosis. Front crawl and backstroke have almost no restrictions.
Possible, but only when wearing the appropriate footwear and proper foot-protection system. Foot defects should be corrected by using individually adjusted orthopaedic shoe inserts. Run on soft and springy surfaces such as sand, grass, and moss. Avoid asphalt and sidewalks as they cause overextensions. While jogging, your spine is in the correct physiological shape, and the intervertebral discs are equally burdened. This keeps them properly nourished.
A proper technique and strong back muscles are crucial for playing tennis (you should begin playing under instructor supervision). Poor technique and weak muscles cause excessive burden on intervertebral discs during twisting movements of the back.
Proper setting and location of the handlebars is essential for this activity. In racing bikes the cyclist is hunched over, which means that the unevenness of the road is not suppressed by intervertebral discs vertically along the axis, but horizontally. The pectoral muscles and torso muscles are static, and not exercised.
5) Alpine skiing
As in tennis, proper technique is crucial here. This sport strengthens leg and torso muscles effectively. However, skiing in a hunched position and slope unevenness can increase the risk of spinal cord or intervertebral disc injury. It is not a sport for people suffering from sacral curve pain, while healthy people need to be careful and make sure to use the proper technique.
6) Body building (in the gym)
Like in all the sports above, a proper technique is very important while body building. One of advantages of this activity is rapid muscle strengthening. However, the use of too heavy weights with an incorrect spine position may lead to pathological burdening of intervertebral discs, and as a consequence, sacral curve pain.