How to Avoid Back Pain and Still Play the Sport You Love

By Savanna Stone
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For your back, not all sports are created equal. If you’re prone to back pain, there are some sports you should avoid that can make your pain worse. Sports that put you in uncomfortable positions such as bending forward, twisting, or jumping tend to be worse for your back. High-impact exercises that could harm your spine are some of the worst ones. If your favorite sport hurts your back, finding something fun to do that doesn’t hurt your back can be hard. But we’ve put together a list of the best and worst sports to do for your back. Hopefully you can find one you like on the good list.


5 Worst Sports for Your Back


Football

Football puts your back in a lot of vulnerable positions like bending forward then being hit down, extending your spine to catch the ball then being hit down, or twisting your spine and then being hit down. Really, the forceful impact during football causes a lot of stress for your spine. If you must play, prepare your back by strengthening your core and stretching before and after you play.


Tennis

Swinging your tennis racket can cause a forceful rotation of your spine. Quickly starting and stopping in tennis can cause muscle strain and pain. In order to prevent these things, make sure you warm up your muscles before you begin playing. Bend your knees as you serve and hit the ball. And keep your abs tight so you don’t put extra strain on your spine.


Gymnastics

Doing crazy gymnastics like swivel-hips and back flips regularly puts a lot of pressure on your spinal discs and can cause you a lot of pain. In order to help prevent some of the pain, strengthen your core so that it is prepared to take the pressure of jumping and twisting frequently, and always warm up before a routine.


Running

There is much debate about whether or not running is good for your back. We decided to put it on the bad list because running can repeatedly compress the discs and joints in your spine, which often causes pain. To help reduce the pain when running, run on a padded track or on grass instead of on hard or uneven surfaces. Wear running shoes that don’t hurt your feet. Warm up your muscles before your run and stretch your muscles after your run. Use the Chirp Wheel+ to warm up and stretch your muscles and decompress your spine. 


Golf

Golfing forces your spine to rotate quickly, which often puts stress on your back’s muscles, discs, and joints. If you love golf so much you have to swing through the pain, make sure you are golfing with proper technique and posture. Warm up your muscles in your upper back before beginning. When you bend over to pick up a golf ball, bend your knees. Utilize a cart or golf cart for your gold bag. Taking these small steps can do wonders for your back.


5 Best Sports for Your Back


Walking

Walking is a low impact exercise that can benefit you in many ways. Even if walking doesn’t get your heart pumping like running does, it is better to do what you can for your back while not harming it. Go on a half hour walk every day and your back will stay looser and strong. Maybe you can work your way up to running again. 


Swimming and resistance training

Swimming, for the most part, is good for your back because it takes gravity off your spine and it strengthens your core. Do strokes that don’t make you rotate your spine too much, and you likely won’t have a problem with your back in the pool. 


Low impact aerobics

There are a lot of things you can still do to get your blood flowing without hurting your back. Low impact aerobics is one of them. Utilize the internet to look up an exercise routine that feels good for your back. It might consist of squats or low impact lunging, but as you do it, make sure that you keep good posture to keep from back pain.


Yoga

Yoga is a great way to strengthen your core, and having a strong core is the best way to stay away from back pain. Some people believe that yoga can even help to heal your body through meditation and exercise. Even if you don’t believe that, it is a great exercise that is safe for your back.


Tai chi

Similar to yoga, tai chi combines the mind, body, and spirit. It is a safe exercise for your back and it can help you focus on getting rid of back pain by strengthening your core and focusing on the pain leaving with a positive mindset.


Still want to play the sport you love despite the back pain?


If your favorite sport isn’t in this blog post but causes you back pain, there are a few things you can do to avoid back pain and still play the sport you love.

  • Strengthen your core
  • Strengthen the muscles in your pelvis
  • Warm up and stretch lower back and leg muscles
  • Roll out on the Chirp Wheel+
  • Know your limit. While you might be okay to power through the pain for a half hour, make sure not to spend too long doing something that hurts. Stop when you need to. Take breaks, and you might be okay to still play the sport you love.

References

Butler, S. (n.d.). The Best Sports for Bad Backs. Retrieved from https://www.thejoint.com/california/san-jose/camden-park-31075/211587-best-sports-for-bad-backs

MedlinePlus. (2020, April 9). Back pain and sports: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000519.htm

Proactive Chiropractic and Rehab Center. (2018, October 9). The Worst Sports For Your Back: Proactive Chiropractic & Rehab. Retrieved from https://charlottechironc.com/blog/these-are-the-worst-sports-for-your-back/

SpinalStenosis.org. (2014, April 15). Top Five Worst Sports for Back Pain. Retrieved from https://stenosisspinal.org/blog/top-worst-sports-pain/

University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). Low Back Pain in Athletes. Retrieved from https://www.umms.org/ummc/health-services/orthopedics/services/spine/patient-guides/low-back-pain-athletes