5 Tips For Sports-Related Back Pain Prevention

Written by: Kyle Pettay, OMS-II

Playing sports is a wonderful way to stay active and spend time with friends and family. Taking the proper precautions to avoid injury can help you stay pain-free and enjoy the sports you love. 

Back injuries are among the most common, accounting for up to 20% of all sports-related injuries [1]. Continue reading below for a few tips to help prevent back injury and keep you in the game.

For more tips on how to prevent back pain, contact our team at OrthoNeuro today! Our specialists are ready to give you the help you’re looking for. Book your visit now!

1. Strengthen Your Core

Strong core muscles can help you prevent sprains or strains, maintain your balance, and avoid awkward movements that can lead to injury [2]. Crunches and back extensions are examples of exercises that can strengthen the muscles that protect your spine. 

Unfortunately, these are the exercises that people tend to skip. They are not glamorous, but they will reduce the chance of injury and help keep back pain at bay.

A male athlete experiencing back pain while playing sports.

2. Warm Up and Stretch

Light cardio to warm up your muscles, followed by stretching, is vital to preventing injury. This will keep the muscles strong, flexible, and healthy. It will also help maintain the range of motion necessary to perform at your best. This is also a great time to include some of those core-strengthening exercises!

3. Maintain Proper Posture

A good athletic stance not only puts you in the best position to execute the movements necessary for sports, but it can also prevent mild to severe back injuries. 

The majority of back and neck injuries in contact sports like football come from athletes who duck their heads when making contact. This puts your spine in a vulnerable position and leaves you susceptible to injury. The best (and most protective) contact position is one with your head raised slightly so you can see your target. 

If non-contact sports are more your speed, a small variation in posture can make a big difference. Puffing out the chest will put your back in proper position and help prevent injury and muscle soreness following activity.

4. Try Swimming

If aches and pains are preventing you from performing on the field or court, or if you are looking for a lower-impact sport to try, swimming is a wonderful option [3]. 

When you place an object in water, buoyant force will counteract gravity and decrease its weight. This process relieves pressure on the spine and allows for aerobic exercise without the normal stress on your joints that come with exercise on land. Swimming is also a great full-body exercise that can help condition your core muscles to more strenuous activity.

5. Make Sure Your Body Can Handle Sports

Check with your doctor to ensure you are physically fit enough to be playing the sports you enjoy. Chronic conditions such as degenerative disc disease can be a gateway to more serious injuries than simple sprains and strains. 

In that case, more strenuous sports should be avoided. Your physician should be able to guide you in the right direction and possibly offer some alternatives to satisfy your competitive spirit.

Book an Appointment Today

Whether you are a serious athlete, weekend warrior, or someone who is looking to become more active, a back injury can be a serious obstacle, following the above tips can help protect your back and keep you performing at your best. 

If you do suffer a serious injury, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The highly-trained physicians at OrthoNeuro can help create an optimized treatment plan to get you back to the sports you love. We serve our clients throughout Columbus, Ohio. Contact us today!


[1] Zemková E, Kováčiková Z, Zapletalová L. Is There a Relationship Between Workload and Occurrence of Back Pain and Back Injuries in Athletes? Front Physiol. 2020 Jul 24;11:894. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00894. PMID: 32792989; PMCID: PMC7394240.

[2] Durall CJ, Udermann BE, Johansen DR, Gibson B, Reineke DM, Reuteman P. The effects of preseason trunk muscle training on low-back pain occurrence in women collegiate gymnasts. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):86-92. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31818b93ac. PMID: 19057402.

[3] Shi Z, Zhou H, Lu L, Pan B, Wei Z, Yao X, Kang Y, Liu L, Feng S. Aquatic Exercises in the Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Meta-Analysis of Eight Studies. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2018 Feb;97(2):116-122. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000801. PMID: 28759476.


Medically Reviewed by Mark Gittins, DO

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