Walk into any random gym and try talking to a versed powerlifter. Chances are that they have, at one time or another, experienced low back issues, whether caused by a poorly performed lift or an old injury. Then talk to a tennis player, a runner, or a CrossFit athlete, and the vast majority of them will likely share similar stories with you. The lower back is perhaps somewhat of the modern human’s Achilles’ heel since it’s easy to get sprained, injured, or a disc ruptured. In such situations, the pain can become chronic and the athlete in question would need to find a pain management solution that would not hinder their performance.
Among many different remedies, certain treatment options are considered the most effective for all elite athletes out there. If you have found yourself dealing with chronic low back pain, here are a few solutions you can consider and add to your arsenal so as to make sure your workouts won’t suffer and the pain will hopefully subside together with the injury that caused it.
Get your back adjusted
Although physical therapy has its advantages and many athletes use it as a way to recover from injuries in an active, but controlled manner, spinal manipulative therapy is a completely different beast. If you know an expert in this practice, you can expect almost immediate pain relief upon having your back adjusted properly. Of course, the skills and experience needed for such a sensitive procedure are indeed vast, so make sure to find someone you can trust.
There are several different varieties in this form of treatment, so it’s wise to consult with your physician or to consider less invasive options before you opt for the more sensitive procedures. As a general rule, practitioners of manual therapy use forceful thrusts to realign your vertebrae and to make sure that your spine is properly adjusted. It’s perfectly safe when done by someone who is trained in the skill. Sometimes more than one treatment is necessary, and it’s often paired with restorative exercises.
Use heat and cold to your advantage
Every athlete knows that placing a pack of ice can work wonders for a sprained ankle or a sore knee. However, low back injuries are more sensitive than that. So, before you choose if the hot or cold compression therapy would work best for you, you need a proper medical examination to determine what the cause of the injury really is.
Cold therapy is known for its benefits of reducing localized inflammation, which is precisely what every injury involves and what often causes pain. Hot therapy, on the other hand, can be very helpful with strained muscles, as it can help you induce relaxation. Still, if it’s a more chronic, permanent issue such as a pinched nerve, then simply managing pain will not be enough.
Seek help from a specialist
When your low back injury causes persistent and often debilitating pain, then you might be dealing with a more severe situation that could require a more thorough treatment. Most athletes in such situations experience low back pain due to a herniated disc, which can be a long-term health issue that will not only hinder your performance, but affect the quality of your life.
In such situations, it’s best to look for the advice of experienced medical professionals such as Dr Timothy Steel, whose expertise in neurosurgery can help you determine if your low back problem requires a surgical procedure. You can educate yourself on available procedures, as well as postoperative physical therapy and other measures that will help you ensure proper recovery. This is often the best route forward for long-lasting, debilitating pain, so it’s wise to take it into consideration.
Medications for pain relief
One of those very first steps any athlete can take is to seek immediate relief in anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen that aim to reduce severe pain, in this case, caused by a low back injury. It’s important to stick to the prescribed doses, since excessive use of certain pain medications can either lead to addiction, or your injury could potentially render them useless as your body becomes resistant to their ingredients.
Another option includes topical pain relief in the form of creams and gels that both have a cooling property and contain pain-relieving ingredients that target a specific, injured area. Depending on the cause of your pain, whether it’s a sprained muscle or an injured disc, your doctor will help you determine which medications will work best.
Strengthening and flexibility exercises
Finally, no matter what the underlying cause of your injury could be, each and every procedure or treatment needs to be accompanied by a set of very specific exercises that help you strengthen your core muscles and your spinal erectors. Sometimes, a doctor will prescribe guided physical therapy consisting of such exercises so that you can perform them safely and under supervision to activate the right muscle groups.
Alternatively, if it’s a mild injury that only calls for better mind-muscle connection, athletes often add core-strengthening exercises and targeted stretches to help reduce the pain but also to be able to go back to their normal training routine more quickly.
Low back pain is one of the most common issues among athletes. Even though there are so many different remedies and treatment options, each athlete is different, hence the need for the doctor’s guidance. No matter how mild the injury may seem, it’s best to look for professional advice and prevent any further damage to your low back.