How to prevent back pain while playing basketball

Like most athletes suffering from back pain, you may have a habit of ignoring the pain while playing basketball, hoping that it will disappear on its own, or even be using short-term pain relievers to fight the pain.

As a basketball player, you may find it necessary to avoid being on the bench during a critical game, losing a position or letting your team, friends, family and fans down.

However, avoiding the pain is wrong and highly risky to your health and career! Instead, you need to look for sustainable means to prevent the pain in the first place.

We both know that basketball is a high impact sports activity that can easily elevate your risk for a serious back condition that can easily terminate your sporting career in a split second. So if you want to protect your well-being and keep playing, you have to take the right measures to prevent back pain. To achieve that, here’s what you need to do:

Engage in endurance training

A good routine of low-impact aerobic exercises is great to prevent back pain while playing basketball because they build strength and endurance in the back muscles, enhancing muscle function. Endurance training can be as simple as walking or running on the treadmill and riding a stationary bicycle for half an hour at least four times a week. Walking regularly gently works your joints, and the riding limits stress on your back while building endurance in its muscles.

Seek physiotherapy

As you play basketball, you need to seek preventative sports medicine to support your training plan. A certified physiotherapist may use technology alongside a personalized exercise plan to help you strengthen the back and other areas that will contribute to the prevention of back pain or injury. The muscles that are commonly underused will be strengthened, allowing you to perform your best without worrying about any pain. There are many physiotherapists in Singapore that you can visit for more guidelines.

Stretch enough during warm-ups

To prevent back pain, one of the activities you have to take seriously is stretching. This practice enhances flexibility, improves the range of motion within your back, prevents muscle soreness and increases blood flow to all the muscles in the body. These are all important factors when it comes to preventing back pain while playing basketball.

There are many stretching exercises you can do off and on the court; here are a few of them:

Prone extension

Prone extension

All you need to do to is:

  • Lie on your stomach, and prop yourself up on your forearms gently and firmly, while placing both hands at a comfortable distance.
  • Raise your chest cavity upward while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • The motion should primarily be in your middle and upper back. Too much motion in the lower back can cause a bit of strain. Move your hands a bit forward to get a distance you’re comfortable with.
  • If you manage to do this stretch comfortably, you can go ahead and straighten your elbows to extend your back even further. The hands may eventually end up directly below your shoulders and your elbows totally straight.

Prayer stretch/ child’s pose

Prayer stretch

To do the child’s pose, tuck your legs underneath, sit back on your heels, and bend forth at your waist, while extending your arms out over your head onto the floor. The goal here is to get some length in your lower back muscles.

Other stretching exercises you can do for your back include:

  • Seated spinal twist
  • Knee-to-chest stretch
  • Quadruped Side-bend
  • Quadruped torso rotation

Shed some pounds

You also have to appreciate that being “light” while playing is important to prevent back pain. This is because when you’re light, you essentially put less pressure on your back. Put differently, extra pounds translate to extra pressure on the intervertebral discs, which may accentuate the spinal curves, increasing the risk of injury. Picture a well-loaded car, jam-packed with people of all sizes. Picture the tires bulging out and weakening, bit by bit, from carrying all that weight. That’s similar to what can happen to your discs when you’re playing basketball with more body weight than necessary. Actually, Harvard Medical School suggests that there is a direct correlation between weight increase and back pain, because weight affects the discs in the spine.

Besides endurance training, you can engage in many exercises to become lighter and optimize your shape. You may already be doing a lot of exercises together with your teammates on a regular basis; however, if you feel like you need to lose a couple of pounds, you can do something extra. One of them is eating healthier. It’s important to watch how much processed or refined foods you put into your body and replace them as necessary. In their place, you can have whole and organic foods. Ultimately, you want to have a diet that is well balanced, low in simple sugars and largely unprocessed to prevent back pain.

Drink a lot of water

Water affects all the organs in your body, including your spine. According to the CDC, one of the main functions of water in the body is to protect the spinal cord. The spine contains a disc in every section between two vertebrae that serves as a shock absorber. The disc is filled with a substance that is predominantly water, which means that as you are playing basketball, gravity works on your upright spine, squeezing the water out of the discs slowly. The disks then rehydrate slowly at night- as long as your body has enough water. Unfortunately most athletes don’t rehydrate sufficiently, and one of the biggest consequences of failing to do so is dehydrating the inner portion of the spine discs. This leads to pain and swelling as more and more of your body weight is borne by the discs’ outer ring, which is not designed for this purpose. So if you want to prevent back pain while playing basketball, you need to ensure you take as much water as you can to keep your spinal cord healthy and efficient.