The Spine and Sport

spine and sport spinal stenosis causes exerciseThe human body has some pretty advanced features but, unfortunately, evolution hasn’t quite caught up with many of our modern daily habits such as spending most of the day sitting in an office drinking coffee and then heading to the gym after work. What this means is that sometimes the spine and sport do not mix well, leading to injuries and back pain and even to early onset of degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis.

Sports like squash, badminton, tennis, soccer,basketball, and even golf can cause serious back problems as the spine and hips are twisting and turning and the discs in the spine have to absorb shock after shock while we run and jump about. When our muscles are tight from having sat in an office chair for most of the day it is no surprise then that muscles become strained and back pain arises.


Dehydration is also often a factor in the development of sporting injuries after work as a daily regimen of coffee drinking, followed by intense physical activity and then a nice relaxing beer leave the whole body dehydrated, which means that the spinal discs are also drying out. As the discs in the spine have no direct blood supply they actually dehydrate much more easily, which leaves them vulnerable to tearing and rupture.

Diet and Exercise – Back Pain Triggers

What’s more, the stress of the working environment and the likelihood of eating foods that actively promote inflammation can all increase susceptibility to injury when donning those running shoes and clambering onto the treadmill. Our workday diets often feature foods that contain saturated and trans-fats (found predominantly in animal products and processed foods), and sugar or simple carbohydrates from sweets and white rice and bread, with little in the way of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances from fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains.

Repetitive Sports and Back Injury

Another contributing factor to injury is the tendency to engage in the same kind of activities over and over again. This may be a daily running regime, or a regular squash game after work, with the same muscles being used repetitively every week. As such, imbalances can arise that then tip the spine off balance and lead to degeneration in the bones and connective tissues. Scar tissue may also develop when the same ligaments are being pulled and torn over and over again, the pain simply being masked by NSAIDs.

Preventing Back Problems

Taking care of our spines means nourishing the whole body throughout the day, staying hydrated, quitting smoking, making sure to exercise different muscles regularly and give others a rest, and getting plenty of sleep so that the body can heal when injuries do occur. Consistent trauma to the spine from sport may not seem like it matters in your twenties, or even in your thirties but years of neglect can make themselves known pretty abruptly, which could put an end to team sports.

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  1. […] things and so can be troublesome for those with back pain from lumbar spinal stenosis. Flexion and non-impact or low impact activities, such as biking, are often recommended for those with spinal stenosis, as is swimming, although […]

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