Your spine is designed with flexibility in mind. However, the tissues, bones, joints, and nerves that support it can still be affected by your preferred activities. If skateboarding happens to be part of your regular routine, your spine and large muscle groups that provide stability will likely be stressed from falls, twists, and turns and the motions necessary to maintain balance while on your board. Since most skateboarders make the same basic movements, there are some common lower back injuries associated with skateboarding.
Arguably the most common cause of low back pain, skateboarders often experience muscle strains because of sudden movements. Also, the forward motion of the torso needed to move on a skateboard automatically stresses flexor muscles and large paired muscles that attach to gluteal muscles. There are three main types of strains a skateboarder may experience:
- Grade 1 (mild discomfort)
- Grade 2 (pain, tenderness, mild swelling)
- Grade 3 (severe pain and swelling, difficulty with mobility)
Hard landings on the feet and buttocks can damage the spine itself or the spongy discs between vertebrae. Repeated impacts may cause existing defects in spinal discs to become worse, which may result in pain from a herniated disc if protruding disc material compresses nerve roots. Jarring and twisting motions and sudden, forceful impacts may also contribute to the following spine-related injuries:
- Spondylolisthesis (one vertebra slips forward over an adjacent one)
- Spinal fractures
- Sciatica (inflammation affecting the sciatic nerve that goes from the lower spine on down)
- Coccydynia (tailbone pain)
- Sacroiliac joint pain
When and Why Skateboarding Injuries Occur
Most skateboarding injuries occur on ramps. Only about 12 percent occur on streets. Loss of balance is the most common cause of injury while on a skateboard, followed by failed attempts to do tricks. Falls caused by surface irregularities often result in moderate injuries. Typically, injuries on ramps or while attempting tricks are more severe.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Lower Back Skateboarding Injuries
Low back pain due to strained muscles often responds well to the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method. This means resting for a few days, applying ice to the affected area, compressing the area to reduce swelling with an elastic bandage, and elevating the injured or sore area when sitting down to increase circulation and minimize swelling.
If skateboarding-related lower back pain doesn’t go away with the RICE method, see your doctor or a Beverly Hills back surgeon to determine what’s going on. Muscle strain can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms. If a structural issue with the lower back is suspected, image tests may be necessary. Treatment typically involves:
- Physical therapy exercises
- Epidural injections directly into the affected area
- Massage therapy
- Medication to reduce swelling (NSAIDs)
Reduce your risk of skateboarding-related lower back pain by paying attention to your posture and technique while on your board. Skateboarders who are inexperienced and those who don’t wear proper protective gear tend to have the most injuries. Avoiding falls and excessive twists as much as possible may be equally helpful. When you’re not on your board, do stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles around your spine. Partial sit-ups, pelvic tilts, and knee-to-chest stretches are among the exercises that may help you achieve this goal.
Whether your back pain is caused by a skateboarding injury or some other source, it’s important to take measures to treat it, which may involve some form of minimally invasive surgery. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in many different fusion and non-fusion procedures, from artificial disc replacement to laminectomy surgery. Beverly Hills residents who want to effectively alleviate their chronic pain should call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.