Back injuries are one of the more common types of injuries that athletes suffer during athletic competition. Since your spine is such a complex structure, it can be difficult to determine exactly what’s wrong and how to best treat the problem. Getting a correct diagnosis and developing a safe treatment plan are just part of the equation when it comes to returning to sports after a back injury. Today, we explore the best ways to get back on the field or court following a spine injury.
Getting Back On The Field
Here’s a checklist for safely getting back on the field following an injury to your back.
1. Get a Diagnosis – For minor bumps and bruises, you may be able to provide your own home care for your injury, but if pain is significant or there are clear signs of an issue, schedule a visit with a spine specialist. They’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s wrong, set you up with a treatment plan and schedule a return to athletics timeline.
2. Chart A Treatment Course – Whether your doctor sets you up with a treatment plan, or you stick to some at-home conservative methods, actively treat the injury. Begin with rest and pain relievers if needed, then slowly begin to strengthen the area as movement becomes more tolerable. Light physical therapy and exercise will help speed up your recovery, just be sure not to overtreat the injury.
3. Increase Conditioning – As your back injury improves, begin to focus on your conditioning. Depending on how long you’ve been away from the game, your fitness level may not be where it used to be, and jumping back into sport without focusing on your conditioning can leave you susceptible to injury.
4. Listen To Your Body – Finally, as your return to athletic activity draws near, listen to your body, because it will let you know if you’re able to tolerate sporting activity. You can begin sporting activities if:
- You have no pain, or pain is minimal
- You have a normal or almost normal range of motion
- You’re confident in the healing that has taken place
- Your condition is back to or near pre-injury level
- You’ve received clearance from your doctor.
If you meet all the above criteria, then you can begin easing your way back into sporting activities.
5. Ease Back In – Finally, once you’re back on the field, ease back into activity. Don’t expect to play all four quarters or the entire 60 minutes. Despite your best conditioning efforts, nothing can really simulate the conditioning level of a game, so don’t be surprised if you’re not quite where you want to be. It takes time to fully recover from back injuries, so ramp up your participation level accordingly. If something doesn’t feel right, shut it down.