Whether you are a professional athlete or playing sports is just something you do in your down time, it’s natural to want to get back in the game as soon as possible after an injury. Fighting through the pain can be particularly tempting with a back injury – especially if the issue doesn’t seem that bad.
Doing this, though – or even just neglecting to get treated – can be a huge mistake. Not only do you put yourself at greater risk of further injury, you could end up doing so much damage that you never fully recover.
Follow these tips to get back into the game safely.
How to Deal with a Sports Injury to Your Back
It’s possible for you to return to form (or even improve your abilities), but you have to do things the right way. There’s a delicate balance between strengthening your spine to prevent future injuries and resting to prevent making your current injury worse.
Know Which Muscles Were Injured. Most sports injuries to the back are strains and sprains, which involve injury to the muscles – typically from over-using them. Talk to your doctor about which of your muscles were injured, and how these muscles relate to other muscles in the body.
Knowing how the body works will help you understand which muscles to focus on strengthening, and which need to be stretched. Remember to keep a good balance of stretching and strengthening all of your muscles.
Warm Up Your Muscles Before Exercise. If you played sports or exercised regularly before your injury, you’ll probably want to get back to doing this immediately. Fight this impulse. At least in the beginning, take it easy and take it slow. You need to continue to strengthen and care for your injured muscles, but you’ll need to take your routine down a notch or two to give them a chance to recuperate.
If you weren’t stretching or warming up your muscles before exercising before you got hurt, there’s never been a better time to start. Failing to properly warm up your muscles puts you at a higher risk of injury.
Stretching is more important than ever now that you are injured. Consider using the following techniques before exercise or playing sports:
- Using heat or massage to warm up muscles
- Stretch using dynamic stretches rather than static stretches
- Repeat the motions you do during sports, but with a lighter or less intense action (lightly swing your golf club, kick a small distance, and so on)
Ice and Stretch Your Muscles after Exercise, Too. You’ve warmed up and exercised, but you’re not finished yet. Cool down stretches (including static stretches) help to maintain flexibility and balance out the length of the muscles that were strengthened during activity.
Now that you know which muscles have been targeted, you can ice them. Icing your muscles after sports or exercise does more than just cool them down – it helps to reduce inflammation as well.
Try an Alternative Exercise. If the exercises you’re used to doing are too intense for your injured back, don’t just sit and wait – this is a great time to try something new!
If you really need to take it easy, start by walking or just stretching to get moving again. Going to the gym just to strengthen the appropriate muscles or do some light jogging also might be a good option. You could also look into trying another sport or physical activity. Whatever keeps you moving and strengthening your muscles (safely!) will help you recover faster and prevent future injury.
For example, you might want to consider activities like swimming or hot yoga. Being in a hot environment or surrounded by water will help to keep your muscles nice and warm throughout your exercise.
Talk to a Chiropractor. Some injuries can be so intense that you are left with herniated discs, misalignment to the spine, or the inability to move like you did before your injury. If mild stretching and exercise just aren’t cutting it, you may want to talk to a professional.
Chiropractors treat sports injuries in different ways, including:
- Massage Therapy: Massage isn’t just good for warming up your muscles before exercise or easing stress. Regular massage can help to loosen stiff muscles, increase blood flow throughout the body, and relieve symptoms of injuries.
- Exercise Therapy and Physical Therapy: Whether you want to regain range of motion in your joints or just learn some exercises to strengthen the injured area, chiropractors will be able to improve your physical abilities and get you back into the game.
- Chiropractic Adjustments: Adjustments help to realign the spine. This not only corrects damage to alignment from an injury, but will help to prevent future injuries that may have been caused by misalignment in the first place.
Want to know more about how a chiropractor can help you after a sports injury? Get in touch with us today.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.