Summer’s with us, and it’s looking like time to get out there and be active! And, after all, we all know that regular movement is the best way to keep our bodies fit and pain free. But what if sport is causing your back pain! Let’s look at a few of the most popular activities…
Golf is popular all year round, but when the sun starts to shine, it can be a bit more enticing than the cold, wet winter months. And while you may think that a few hours walking in the countryside, interspersed with a few shots (hopefully not too many…) can’t be that testing for your body, it can lead to a lot of common issues.
Your swing consists of many different areas of the body moving in harmony – shoulders, hips, knees, and pretty much everything in-between them! If you have an area of restriction or tightness through the spine, this can cause excess movement elsewhere. For instance, if your upper back is tight, you might find that your shoulders aren’t moving as much as they should, and you have to swing more through your hips and lower back, and vice versa. Suddenly, one area of the body is doing far more work, and this puts it at risk of injury.
Quite often we see golfers who have hurt their lower back because the upper back and neck are tight – too much swing through the hips, and the lower back is suffering. This will impact not just your golf, but lots of other day-to-day activities as well.
Sunny weather, open roads, dry forest tracks. Nothing could be better for getting out on the bike, whatever your discipline. And I think we’ve all suffered with a bit of back pain after a day in the saddle. But is that just the price you pay? Well, no, is the simple answer. First off, proper bike set-up is important. If you have any worries that your saddle, peddles or handlebars aren’t in the right place, get that sorted out first. A reputable bike shop will do that pretty quickly.
Now we need to look at the human machine. Cycling uses a specific set of muscles in the legs and hips in a set way for extended periods of time. If you aren’t careful, this can cause tightness through the front of the pelvis and hips, pulling the lower back forward. If you think of the posture you are in on the bike – body bent forward, legs lifted up – this is what is replicated when the muscles get tight. As you stand up, these tight muscles start to pull the pelvis to the front, dragging the spine with it. The extra pressure into the lower back can cause discomfort when standing or walking, and even lead to aching through the back when at work – sitting in front of a computer all day keeps these muscles short and tight, much like cycling.
Tennis isn’t always just a Summer sport, but with Wimbledon fast approaching, and public courts open in the sun, more people may be picking up that racquet to start playing again. Tennis is a fast-paced game. You just have to watch Nadal, Djokovic or Barty serve to see how quick you’d have to be on the other end! And with a relatively small court to play on, quick movement and turns are essential to stay in the game. And it’s this quick twisting and turning that can cause the problems – much like golf, a restricted or tight area through your back or hips might lead to you having to try harder somewhere else. If you can’t turn through your core quick enough, you’re going to have to push harder through your feet & ankles, or throw your shoulders round more. All this could lead to extra strain in the muscles, or aggravation of joints – pain either during your game or after, and dropped points!
What’s the answer?
Well, definitely not give up and head to the garden seat or armchair! Any symptoms that you might be experiencing might just be signs that there is an issue with the body that can often be easily sorted out. Here are some tips that may help.
Make sure that you don’t go full gas from the start (apologies for the cycling jargon!). You don’t need a stretching routine. Just do the chosen exercise gently for 5-10 mins. Cycle slowly into a ride; walk into a run; practice swings for golf. You get the idea…
Have a good stretch, all-body stretch out after. Stretch the front, back and sides of your body. Bend, arch and twist!
If your exercise has been full on then make sure you hydrate and eat protein. Chocolate milkshake is a scientifically-proven winner here. No, really!
If problems persist, then come and see us at MSO. A bit of osteopathy or sports massage might not just sort the problem but raise your game to a new level!
Contact us if you have any questions or think you might need some help!