Back pain and sports. The two share a link with which many people are familiar. From aggravating old injuries to causing new ones, sports have a reputation for causing back pain. It may come as a surprise, then, that some sports can actually be used to relieve back pain.
Before you head to the internet to fact-check us, hear us out—not all sports are good for your back, especially if you have preexisting back injuries and pain. There are, however, a handful of sports that can offer you back pain relief when done correctly.
We’re here to discuss some of those beneficial sports and how they may help your pain dissipate. Of course, before you run out and join the nearest swimming club, you should consult your doctor to ensure you and your back are prepared for the new activity.
Back pain and swimming tend to play nicely together, and no, we don’t mean hanging out in the hot tub with your friends. Instead, we are talking about swimming laps, which benefits your back in several ways.
Not only is swimming a low-impact exercise, as you are suspended in water, but it is also an excellent exercise for strengthening your back. By creating a stronger back, you are also building a back that is less likely to suffer from new injuries or reinjury. Swimming is a win-win!
Stretching is vital for relieving back pain and developing a more resilient back. For these reasons, yoga is a fantastic sport for back pain sufferers to enjoy, as it does an amazing job of stretching not only the back but also other muscle groups that can contribute to back pain.
Better still, yoga is scalable to your comfort and experience level, allowing you to gradually improve as you learn more and your body adapts. With enough guidance and practice, yoga can stretch and strengthen vital muscles to relieve back pain and potentially prevent it from returning.
For you sports fanatics out there, walking may make you roll your eyes. For those with back pain, including sports purists, walking—sport or not—is one of the best activities for your back. It allows you to safely use the muscles that often contribute to back pain, including your legs, thereby alleviating the pain.
Be cognitive of how you are walking and what muscles you are engaging. By maintaining good posture, you can train your body, including your back, to protect itself. Also, be sure to wear the appropriate shoes and choose your terrain intentionally. The wrong shoes and uneven terrain can actually worsen back pain, so consider them carefully.
If you have back pain, cycling may be the sport for you. Because cycling removes much of the stress from your back and joints, it permits you to enhance your cardiovascular fitness and strengthen your muscles—particularly your legs—without putting your back in harm’s way.
As with the other sports for back pain relief, it is important to use the right equipment and choose the right terrain when cycling. Make sure the bike you are using fits you properly, invest in the right shoes for the sport, and avoid mountain biking, as the jarring nature of the terrain can exacerbate back pain.
From relieving current back pain to making new pain less likely, participating in certain sports can be advantageous for those with back pain. While the sports that fall into this category are all wonderful ways to exercise safely, they must be done the right way and with the right equipment. That’s why we always suggest speaking to your doctor before trying a new sport.
Your doctor can discuss the possible risks based on your exact medical condition, guide you to the best sports for you, and possibly direct you to a trusted guide for the sports that interest you. Now, get out there, get active, and revel in the back pain relief that some sports can give!