Neck and back pain prevention is extremely important for the active athlete. Whether you’re a professional baseball player or the star first basemen of your neighborhood softball team, no one wants to deal with neck and back pain – on or off the playing field. The good news is that while neck and back pain are both common symptoms, recovery from a minor injury is normally a fairly quick process, and there are steps that can be taken to avoid injury.
Neck pain and lower back pain are experienced by nearly everyone at some point in their life. The cervical spine in the neck and lumbar spine in the lower back support a tremendous amount of weight and are also extremely mobile, which makes these segments of the spine particularly prone to injury and gradual wear and tear. That being said, there are a number of steps that athletes can take to reduce the risk of injury:
- Stretch – the single most important thing that an athlete can do before engaging in any physical activity is to fully stretch. The most common source of neck and back pain is muscle strain, which is usually caused by the overexertion of tense muscles. Taking the time to stretch correctly significantly reduces this risk.
- Stay hydrated – keeping hydrated with water and electrolytes is important for avoiding cramps and keeping healthy.
- Don’t try and do too much – building up the necessary muscles is an integral step toward avoiding injury, and the likelihood of muscle strain or a degenerative spine condition is greatly increased when the athlete tries to overdo it.
- Take frequent breaks from repetitive activities – continuous bending and twisting puts undue stress on the spine and increases the chance of strain.
- Maintain good posture – the correct alignment of the spine reduces stress on the spinal anatomy.
In most cases neck and back pain can be prevented with proper preparation. However, if pain persists for several days, it is important for the athlete to visit a physician for further treatment.