Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries & Back Pain


Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and sports are one approach many people choose to use to get their exercise.

  • For people with back pain, sports can still be a viable option if they pay attention to their back.
  • For others who participate in sports, knowing the type of strain various sports place on the back may help prevent a back injury.

This article gives specific information about sports injuries and back pain from bicycling, weight lifting, running, swimming, skiing, golf, and tennis.

Types of Sports-Related Back Injuries

In any sport, injuries to any part of the spine are possible, as well as injuries to the soft tissue and fascia that help comprise the makeup of the body. Up to 20% of all injuries that occur in sports involve an injury to the lower back or neck.

Lower Back Injury

The lower back is subject to a great deal of strain in many sports. Sports that use repetitive impact (e.g., running), a twisting motion (e.g. golf), or weight loading at the end of a range-of-motion (e.g., weightlifting) commonly cause damage to the lower back.

Neck Injury

The neck is most commonly injured in sports that involve contact (e.g., football), which place the cervical spine (neck) at risk of injury.

Upper Back Injury

The thoracic spine (mid portion of the spine at the level of the rib cage) is less likely to be injured because it is relatively immobile and has extra support. Injuries seen here can involve rib fracture and intercostal neuralgia as well as intercostal muscle strains in sports that involve rotation of the torso (e.g. weight training with rotation), swimming, golf, tennis, and even skiing.

Stretching and Warm-Up Prior to Exercise

While static stretching prior to any type of exercise used to be recommended, a number of studies in recent years have shown that stretching the muscles prior to exercise is not needed. A number of studies have shown that it does not help prevent injury, and likely does no harm either.1,2,3

For every sport, a thorough warm-up should be completed before starting to play. The warm-up will target the muscles used in that sport, but it should also prepare the back for the stresses to come.

The warm-up used should be specific to the sport to be played. A typical warm-up should include:

  • Increase circulation gradually by doing some easy movement (such as walking) to increase blood circulation to the muscles and ligaments of the back
  • Stretch the lower and upper back and related muscles, including hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Start slowly with the sport movements (e.g. swing the golf club, serve the ball)


Hamstring Stretching Video


Sport Injuries, Back Injuries, and Back Pain


Work with a Professional to Prevent or Manage Back Injury

There are professionals or instructors in almost every sport who are willing to share their expertise. Ideally, someone with this type of expertise can teach the correct form for a new sport or help develop and keep the proper technique for a current sport.

Before starting to work with any sports or exercise professional, it is advisable to inquire about his or her credentials. In general, if the individual is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), he or she should be up to date on the latest evidence related to stretching, exercise routines for specific sports, and additional information designed to benefit your personal routine.

Mets’ Infield, Chiropractor Is The Most Important Position



There are many ways to describe the Mets’ projected starting infield of David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Lucas Duda. But two weeks ago, as Mets Manager Terry Collins discussed how he would handle their playing time, he provided a telling answer while rattling off the positions.

“We’ve got a bad back, bad back, bad knee and a bad back,” Collins said, referring to Wright, Walker, Cabrera and Duda.

The 2017 Mets, for all of their potential and talent, cannot ignore a significant question mark: health. Aside from the arm-related injuries of the pitching staff, the condition of the spines of three key infielders will hover over the team all season.

Wright, the long-tenured third baseman, has played only 75 games during the past two seasons; part of the reason was neck surgery in June, but mostly it is because of spinal stenosis, a chronic condition. Walker, the second baseman, had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back in September. And Duda, the power-hitting first baseman, missed four months last season because of a stress fracture in his lower back.

All three reported to spring training relatively healthy; in Wright’s case, fusion surgery on a herniated disk in his neck had healed. But only two days into the exhibition schedule, the Mets have suffered a setback.

After experiencing what he said was a pain-free off-season, Duda reported feeling spasms in his back late last week. The pressure had an adverse effect on his hips, and he received a cortisone shot on each side Friday.

“So we’ll take a few days now instead of two weeks down the road,” Duda said. “Just being cautious.”

That should be the Mets’ motto all year.



Although baseball players put repeated strain on their core when pitching or swinging, they do not suffer more back injuries than athletes in sports that entail more forceful impact, such as football or hockey, said Dr. Andrew C. Hecht, the chief of spine surgery for Mount Sinai Health System, who wrote a soon-to-be-released book on spine injuries in athletes.

“What happens when you have a few on one particular team is that it highlights it,” Hecht said.

Walker’s injury was the simplest. He first felt discomfort in his lower back and tingling in his leg late during the 2012 season, which he thought was caused by the sport’s day-to-day rigors. Some back pain recurred in the years that followed, but never to the degree that it did last season, when he said he also experienced numbness in his leg and foot.

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Hecht, who is not involved in the treatment of these Mets players, said lumbar disk herniation like Walker’s is “as common as common can be.” Surgery to repair the injury involves removing only the part of the herniated disk that is pinching the nerve and causing the pain, Hecht said.

Walker, 31, said he completed his physical therapy in less than three months and went through normal off-season workouts. Although he is healthy now, Walker said that he has a regimen of daily exercises and stretches to keep his back in good shape.

Despite the back ailment last season, Walker still hit .282, with 23 home runs and a career-high .823 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. The Mets felt confident enough in his recovery that they gave him a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer. Walker accepted, and the sides have talked about a contract extension.

Duda’s injury, a vertebral crack, is another common back ailment in athletes, Hecht said. The usual treatment is rest and rehabilitation.

Before his recent flare-up of back spasms, Duda, 31, said he, too, was regularly doing exercises to support his back. Until last week, there was reason to be optimistic about Duda’s outlook because, after missing 107 games last season, he returned in September to play eight games.

Still, as a precaution, right fielder Jay Bruce took ground balls at first base during workouts on Sunday. Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores are options to back up Walker; Cabrera, the infielder with the balky knee last season; and Wright.

Wright’s stenosis, a narrowing of the canal in the spinal cord that can lead to chronic stiffness and pain, is the most complicated ailment. Hecht said the condition was rare among younger athletes, and while Wright is only 34, he is entering his 14th major league season.

Wright said doctors have told him his condition was the “perfect storm” of three factors. He was born with a narrow spinal canal, Wright said, explaining, “Ideally, you’d want a little more space so that those nerves don’t get pinched.” Wright also sustained a vertebral fracture years ago, which, along with the wear and tear of playing so much baseball, has contributed to his injury.

Wright had neck surgery in June, for an injury that he said was unrelated to his spinal stenosis, which was diagnosed in May 2015. After rest and rehabilitation, he returned to the field in August 2015, but he often required hours of stretching and preparation to play. That kind of maintenance is expected to continue for the rest of his career.

While expectations of how much Wright can play will be tempered again this season, he can try to limit the effects of spinal stenosis. Compared with last year, Wright said, he has a better idea of how to manage his back in spring training, even though he is still building up his arm strength after his neck surgery.

“I know the routine and the process,” he said. “I understand my body a little bit better.”

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In any sport, injuries to any part of the spine are possible, as well as injuries to the soft tissue and fascia that help comprise the makeup of the body. Up to 20% of all injuries that occur in sports involve an injury to the lower back or neck. For Answers to any questions you may have please call Dr. Jimenez at 915-850-0900

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The information herein on "Sports Injuries & Back Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


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