Summer Sports and Your Back

Summer Time Sports

It’s summertime and the days are warmer and longer.  Hopefully, this motivates you to get out and get some additional exercise – softball, baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, volleyball, surfing, swimming, or another one of your favorite sports.

Whatever sport you participate in, preventing summertime sports injuries depends upon being in good condition, or at the least, performing proper stretching/warm-up before participating.  It’s a good idea to develop and maintain a year-round workout routine that includes the stretching and strengthening of your muscles to keep your body and back ready for action.  When your body is not in condition and cannot move easily and safely with adequate range of motion, your back becomes more vulnerable.

Here are some reminders and suggestions for preventing sports injuries.

Understand Your Body’s Condition During the Day

Not all of us can be full-time athletes.  We must work to earn a living.  Working in an office, for example, can put your body at a disadvantage if you sit for long periods of time.  The human body was not designed to be at rest for hours at a time.  Long periods of inactivity can cause the core muscles of the body to weaken.  It is these core muscles that are responsible for supporting your back.  Whether you sit for long periods of time at the office or perform manual labor such as lifting heavy boxes, just turning your body slightly can cause your back to work harder.  Remember to take a break during your working hours to stretch your muscles and rotate your joints to keep your body moving.  Stay aware of your body’s positioning throughout your workday.  Don’t forget to use your hips, knees, and ankles and not let your back take all of the stress.  If necessary, request or hire an ergonomic expert to help you to reduce the stress and strain on your body from working in non-neutral postural positions or those that involve repetitive motions.  Taking care of your back at work will help to minimize injuries when you exercise, work around the house, or play a sport.

Start Slowly

As summer arrives, it is natural for people to increase their level of activity.  If you have not been keeping a regular fitness regime all year, jumping into an activity that puts added force on the body can be harmful.  Start slowly with a conditioning program to prepare your body for action.  Many muscle and joint injuries have occurred because the body was not conditioned for a particular activity.

Vary You Daily Workout Regimen

If you really enjoy a particular sport or exercise that utilizes specific muscles or joints, make sure that you do not forget about the rest of the body.  Exercises that emphasize a particular set of movements can cause an imbalance between muscle groups.  Remember that the body’s muscles and joints are designed to work together as a whole.  If you focus too much on one of muscle groups, the other muscles excluded will become weaker, thus increasing the chance of injury.

Don’t Forget to Take Rest Breaks

Whether you are at work or working out, you should take a break every so often (20-30 minutes) to give your muscles a chance to relax.  This releases unnecessary tension around the joints and helps to prevent injuries.  Giving your joins a temporary break from their work positions will allow you to feel better throughout the day and perform better.  When possible, find a place to lie down with your knees bent and head propped up.  This will help relax your back muscles as well as all of your other joints.

Keep Your Spine Moving

When you sit for long periods of time, the movements of your back are limited mostly to moving forward and back.  Your spine was designed to move in many directions and it is in our best interest that it stays that way.  Don’t forget to rotate and bend your spine in several directions during the day to keep your spine in motion.  Trunk rotations are a great exercise to help you keep your spine healthy – keep the rotations smooth and easy and do not over rotate.

Keep Your Body in Alignment

Remember the song we sang when we were little?  The song that says, “Your hip bone is connected to your leg bone / Your leg bone’s connected to your knee bone,” and so forth.  The body is a complete system of connected parts.  The ends of the bones come together to form the joins.  The muscles work to move the bones.  Tendons hold the joints together.  You couldn’t move a finger without these joints, bones, tendons, and muscles working properly.  Similarly, with your spine.  We often take the spine for granted and ignore the importance of it until it’s too late.  Your back has 26 movable bones and several joints that allow you to move in several directions.  For your spine to work to the best of its ability, it needs to be in perfect alignment with the other bones and joints.  The muscles around the spine help to hold the bones in place.  If your muscles are working harder than necessary to keep your spine aligned, then you will feel discomfort or pain and not be able to perform your job or favorite sport as well as you would like.

Remember to take time out to keep your spine in alignment.  Yoga and Pilates help with spine alignment.  If you feel that you have sustained an injury to the spine or another joint, see a chiropractor.  In addition to regular exercise, regular chiropractic maintenance adjustments can help keep you aligned and in tip-top shape.