Skating And Back Pain

You can hurt your back when you fall skating, whether your sport of choice is ice skating, roller skating, or inline skating. But you don't have to take a fall for skating to cause back pain. The muscles that support the spine are prone to injury; therefore, it's important to know how skating can cause back pain, when to seek treatment, and what you can do to relieve or prevent back pain.

When to See a Doctor

Many times, back pain related to skating lasts for only a few days. If pain persists or gets worse, the condition may require treatment. See a doctor or orthopedic specialist if:

  • Pain is severe enough to interfere with your sleep

  • Pain is accompanied by weakness or numbness in your legs

  • You experience signs of infection such as fever or chills

  • You have problems controlling your bladder or bowels

Causes of Back Pain for Skaters

  1. Muscle strains are a common cause of lower back pain for skaters due to overuse injuries or trauma. Sudden movements and poor posture while skating can also cause muscle spasms and strains.

  2. Athletes who skate may develop a herniated disk, which can cause back pain, leg pain, or weak leg muscles. A herniated disk often develops between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae -- the area that absorbs the impact of bearing your weight when you are in the erect position. Repetitive body motions that involve twisting your trunk and extending your back when bending forward can cause low back pain associated with a herniated disc.

  3. Stress fractures to the spine are not always serious, but they can be painful. Putting repetitive force on your bones without allowing adequate time for rest can cause tiny cracks in bones that eventually develop into stress fractures.

  4. The impact from hard landings can cause back pain. Slipped vertebrae can occur if you continue to skate with a bone fracture. A vertebra in the lower back weakened by spondylolysis (stress fracture) can cause it to shift out of its proper position. If the condition becomes serious, the bones can press on nerves.

Ways to Relieve Pain Associated With Skating

If your back pain isn't related to a slipped disc or other chronic back problem that requires medical treatment, there are steps you can take to help ease the pain when you aren't skating:

  1. Stretch the muscles in your legs, particularly your hamstrings, before and after skating. Tight hamstrings -- the muscles at the back of your leg behind the thigh -- limit the movement of your hips and legs, which can make you more likely to suffer muscle strains or injuries.

  2. Do exercises that strengthen your core muscles. Strengthening the muscles of your pelvis, abdomen, and lower back improves your balance, reducing the risk of muscle injuries and lower back pain. A core exercise is any exercise that requires using your back and abdominal muscles together.

  3. Perform self-massage. Lie down on the floor with two tennis balls underneath your lower back on either side of your spine. Gently move the tennis balls up your spine, lying on the tennis balls for a minute or two at each pressure point.

When you are skating:

  1. Avoid skating with your back straight or in a swayback position. You can prevent back pain if you keep the natural curves of your spine, which is often referred to as a neutral spine position.

  2. Let your legs do more of the work. By using gravity and your body weight to push yourself forward, you take some of the load off your back.

  3. Get in a stretch while you are skating by grabbing the backs of your knees with your hands. Pull your shoulders toward your knees, arching your spine upward at the same time.

  4. Release tight back muscles by exhaling forcefully with your mouth open, keeping your abdominal muscles pressed against your spine.

For more information, contact Conroy Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy or a similar location.