Causes of Back Pain in Athletes

A wellness approach to athletic recovery

By: Cyrus Sepahbodi

During high school I played football on the varsity team as a defensive linemen. In college I ran track and field to keep myself in shape. After college I joined my local gym to keep myself healthy and build muscle mass. Yet one fateful day during a lifting and cardio class I injured my back while doing box jumps. It was halfway through the class and as I was landing during a strenuous set, I landed off balance with a distinct pop followed by immediate pain shooting through my lower spine. An emergency room visit, x-ray, and a pain killer later, my doctor told me that I had potentially slipped one of the disks in my vertebrae. For the next few months my experience with back pain made it necessary for me to start doing physical therapy to keep my ability to walk properly. With one small landing, I joined the 31 million adults who suffer from back pain. Having back pain was stressful, emotionally draining, and isolative. Not being able to walk properly and exercise, my health began to suffer. I had to start being proactive about my health and wellness in order to combat the pain and return to normal life. But not all back pain is restricted to those with injury. Most professional athletes can develop back pain due to the physical activities or contact sports that they play. Unchecked back pain can debilitate and degrade the ability of athletes to perform at their top level. But there are methods and practices that can help combat and manage back pain for athletes. It requires being mindful and proactive about self care and pain management.