We all know some one who have had a low back injury from sports. Maybe you are recovering from low back pain yourself. Today we want to share with you seven truths (references included) everyone should know about their low back.

#1 High load doesn’t mean higher risk of back pain

While it is common for athletes to think they get injured their back because they have been training too much, this is not supported by research. It is true that in some sports (e.g rowing), an increase in training load is associated with a higher risk of back pain. The reverse, however, is also true in some instances. Believe it or not, chronic higher training load is associated with lower risk of injury in cricket bowlers.

Reference: High acute:chronic workloads are associated with injury in England & Wales Cricket Board Development Programme fast bowlers

#2 “Too fast, too soon” is a thing

In the same study, a sudden increase in training load is associated with an increased risk of injury. While high training load may prove to be beneficial, how you get there matters.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down it’s the load you’re not prepared for.”

#3 Rest is not likely to help

Non-contact injuries (including injuries to the low back) are not caused by too much physical activity in an absolute sense. Injuries from non-contact mechanisms are more likely due to inadequate training or activity program. This means rest is not going to help. One the contrary, athletes should be looking at better preparing themselves for the demands of their sports through an entire season.

Tim Gabbett’s paper titled Training-Injury Prevention Paradox outlines increased training load can both improve performance and reduce risk of injury. For example, athletes who undergone over 18 weeks of training before sustaining their initial injuries were at less likely to sustain a subsequent injury.

Therefore, it is unlikely for rest to be a long-term solution. Instead, athletes should aim to be consistently active while ensuring adequate preparation for loading.

Reference: The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder?

#4 Reduce activity only when necessary but don’t rest

If your injury is giving you pain, activity modification might be necessary. Observe how your back pain changes with different loading. Reducing the amount of exercises you do is unnecessary unless it dramatically decreases your symptoms. Pay attention to the types of movement that elicit the symptoms. Is the pain provoked with leg movements or low back movements? Does the pain come on during mid-range or only at the end range of motion.

We suggest using this information to modify your activity first before reducing physical activity. If a full squat aggravates your symptoms, try half squats or box squats before deciding to avoid squatting altogether.

When in doubt, seek professional help. Remember, it’s okay for therapeutic exercises to be painful. Research has shown that painful exercises are superior to pain-free ones in the short-term in the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Don’t be freaked out if your chiropractor asked you to exercise in spite of the pain. This is good. Good for you.

#5 Aim for resilience instead of strength

There is the misconception that the purpose of therapeutic exercises is to increase strength. This is false. The true purpose of rehabilitation is to make you more resilient to loading and to adequately prepare you for the loads you may require in your current lifestyle. While this may result in an increased in strength, strength gain alone should not be the goal.

Based on the latest understanding of exercises for low back pain, no single, specific form of exercise is superior to others! Yes, rehabilitation works. Yes, you may gain strength. No, strength programs are not superior to other types of exercises.

#6 Return to sport is a continuum

Although most therapists treat return to sport as an isolated step at the end of an athlete’s rehabilitation program, we consider return to sport as an continuum that begins on your first day of injury. In doing so, we have more time to work with your goals and the demands of your sport. As you start to recover from your initial injury, you will find yourself more prepared to return to your game.

Again, don’t take a complete break from all physical activity. Work with us and let us help you program your recovery into your exercise routine. It’s a win-win. We promise!

#7 Recovery works on a criteria-based progression

Most athletes (and non-athletes) imagine recovery occurs with time. This is not true. At Square One, we do not work on a time-based criteria. While we do strive to prepare our clients to leave our care between four to seven visits, your rehabilitation progression is not time-based.

If you are unable to perform a one-leg squat, there is no way we will get you to do a one-leg box jump!

Are you currently suffering from low back pain from sports? We highly encourage you to seek professional help. Don’t know where to go? Reach out to us and we will be happy to direct you to the right person for your recovery needs.