Combat Fighters BACK PAIN Prevention & Treatment
BACK PAIN – Prevention And Treatment Is Easier Than You Think
Approximately 80% of the population will experience back pain in their life-time. Although the majority of people who suffer back pain are between the ages of 30 and 50, it is critical to practice preventative techniques at a young age to ensure a healthy and active life.
Combat athletes however are not exempt from experiencing back pain. Through the vigors of weight training and sparring, the muscles and joints of the back can become injured quickly halting them from further training and competition. By following some simple guidelines for prevention and treatment, the athlete can enjoy a healthy and strong back.
The importance of stretching:
They say, “an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold,” well in your case, it might be worth the gold in your championship belt if you don’t follow these measures.
Increasing your flexibility is a low cost, low-tech simple and quick way to enjoy a healthy back. By starting a 2-5 minute stretching routine each morning and night, you can quickly eliminate your back troubles, but also experience more energy and strength as well.
The following low back stretches should be included in your routine regardless of age: pelvic tilt, lumbar extensions, cat-stretch (mountain & sag), knees to chest, hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, groin, glutei, back, neck and shoulders.
When stretching muscles, hold for at least 20-30 seconds and repeat three times. There are many good stretching books, instructional classes and videotapes you can follow.
Yoga and Pilates techniques are being used more and more in professional sports because they benefit the user in many more ways other than their amazing stretching routines. I highly recommend trying them.
One the most common muscles to affect back pain is the hamstrings. Hamstring length should be at 90° from a lying down position. I am constantly amazed at how tight athletes’ hamstrings are. If your hamstring length is around 50°, you are an injury waiting to happen. When measuring hamstring length, do not measure them from a standing position trying to touch your toes.
This is not an accurate measure since most of the movement can come from other low back joints and not the hamstrings. You should be sitting on the floor reaching for you toes. With daily stretching, the hamstrings should resolve fairly quickly.
The importance of posture:
Poor posture puts unnecessary strain on your low back muscles and spine. There is no single ideal posture since every person is different. However there are some basic guidelines we can follow to insure our spines remain healthy and our muscles relaxed.
Sitting: Whether in school, work or at home, for many of us sitting is the position we are in the most. Let’s compare the amount of pressure on our low back discs in different positions.
Lying on back 25%
Sitting up straight 150%
Sitting slouched forward 250%
As you can see, sitting slouched puts a great deal of unnecessary strain on the low back. If you are sitting all day long, a lumbar support and ergonomically designed workstation is essential, as it will ensure your entire body is in the best position for a comfortable day.
Ice or heat?
Ice should be applied when the injury has just occurred such as a fall or accident. Ice acts as an anti-inflammatory and is also an excellent painkiller. Icing should be done 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off, followed by gentle stretching.
Heat is usually applied to the low back when the injury is chronic and is due to tight muscles. The heat will help to relax the muscles and take some tension off the back. Do not over-heat. This can promote inflammation and make your condition worse. Heat no more then 20 minutes on and 40 minutes off with gentle stretching.
Chiropractic care has shown to be the most effective treatment for low back pain. Doctors of chiropractic will conduct a thorough exam, take x-rays if necessary and are trained to diagnose your condition. Through manipulation of the spine, patients of chiropractic enjoy quick and safe relief from back pain.
They will instruct you on proper core strengthening and stretching routines. Chiropractors are also well trained to direct you to any additional therapies or test required.
Active Release Technique, Acupuncture and Massage therapy have all been proven to be an excellent solution for the treatment of low back pain. It is important that you find a certified health care professional when seeking these therapies.
Back pain from your feet?
Another common area where your back pain can be coming from is your feet. As the song goes, “the ankle bone is connected to the leg bone,” a low arch in your foot can mechanically change the force that is transmitted from your foot to your knee to your back. Customized orthotics designed by a health care professional can quickly resolve the problem
There are many creams on the market that mimic an ice or heat affect. These are more for pain control and offer very little healing effect. They do not replace actual ice or heat and do not produce the same results. Many people believe they have the same affect and unnecessarily prolong their injury.
There are some creams on the market that do have anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Look for creams that contain a homeopathic medicine called arnica; “Traumeel” by Heel is widely used by professionals.
Muscle-relaxants and painkillers are drugs used quite often for low back pain. These only mask the problem and should only be used for very short periods of time. Consult a health care professional, such as a chiropractor, to treat the source of the problem.
Electrical Muscle Stimulating Devices: These units (TENS) can now be purchased through infomercials. They can be very effective for pain control but once again will do very little to fix the actual problem.
Low back pain is something that can be easily avoided with a little prevention. If you do experience back pain, there are plenty of excellent therapies available to you. Consult your local health care professional.
Start paying attention to your body, notice subtle signs in your training, start asking questions, seek experienced answers, and most importantly don’t settle on your performance – there is always room for improvement.