Athletes, in general, are at a greater risk for some type of lower back pain due to repetitious extensions, flexions and rotations, not to mention all-too-frequent collisions and falls. Lower back injuries associated with contact sports like soccer can range from a fairly minor stress fracture that’s likely go away on its own to a disc herniation requiring immediate medical attention. If you play soccer regularly and experience some levels of pain in your lower back, our Santa Monica board-certified physicians share what you need to know.
Spondylosis (stress fracture in the lower back) is common in soccer players. It’s an especially common injury for younger soccer players (preadolescences and teens) who frequently overuse their lower back muscles or sustain multiple falls and hits to that particular area. Typically, associated pain from the fractured vertebrae will be experienced while running or jumping. Remedies include:
- Discontinuation from soccer for a few months
- Avoidance of excessive stretching of the back
- Stretching and core strengthening exercises (to build strength and stabilize the spine)
The most common injury soccer players are likely to experience is a muscle spasm in the lumbar spine. Side tackles, quick twists and turns, falls or even a hard kick can result in a muscle spasm. Stiffness or tightness is often immediately felt in the affected area when a spasm occurs. Spine surgery generally isn’t required. Non-surgical remedies will often include:
- Application of heat/cold
- Light stretching (once the pain lessens or goes away)
- Core strengthening
- Proper dynamic warm up (to prepare the affected muscles to help avoid another spasm)
Usually resulting from high-impact play, a disc herniation (when the inner portion of the disc slips or protrudes) can result in pain that’s felt across the back and into the legs. Immediate medical attention is required to assess the extent of the damage. However, learning proper techniques while playing soccer and core strengthening can help reduce the risk of experiencing a herniation.
For soccer players that have not found relief from their low back pain, it is important to meet with a spinal specialist to ensure that you are not doing further damage to your spine. Reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and request an in-person consultation – 310-828-7757.