Who has not suffered throughout their sports life some back pain? In the practice of any sports discipline, and in the case of running in particular, it is common to feel back pain when we go running. All prevention is little, being necessary on the part of every athlete to be aware of what are the causes for which these pains occur, in order to tackle it properly.
Structure of the back (Muscles, bones,…)
There are quite a few muscles present in the back or that are closely related to its different functions, such as: the dorsal, the trapezius, the serratus, the paravertebrals (which consists of 5 muscle groups), etc. We also have muscle groups that help us avoid possible imbalances , and thus, the risks that these entail. Those muscles are the abdominals, psoas, gluteals, pyramidal and hamstrings; all of them related to the back area.
In addition, we differentiate three zones along the entire back:
- The cervical area : it is located in the neck area and has the first 7 vertebrae of the spinal column . In this area there are several joints with their corresponding muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons,…
- The dorsal area : it is the central area of the back that corresponds to a total of 12 vertebrae and is located after the cervical vertebrae. Each of the dorsal vertebrae is attached to a pair of ribs, for the protection of internal organs .
- The lumbar zone : The lowest area of the back and that is located right next to the buttocks. It consists of 5 vertebrae and we could include the sacrum and the coccyx.
We must not forget the different curves that are present throughout our back; abnormal curvatures for effective movement performance.
If we look at our back from the side, there are different positions that can reduce our performance , such as pronounced lordosis (in the cervical and lumbar area) and pronounced kyphosis (in the dorsal area).
Furthermore, if, on the other hand, we look at the back frontally, when it is totally unbalanced or curved (instead of straight), we say that said abnormality is called scoliosis.
Causes of back pain
The causes of back pain are highly variable and multiple. However, we can distinguish three large areas that can generate their own localized pain: cervical, dorsal and lumbar. Next, we break down the causes of back pain at general and specific levels .
At a general level we can diagnose that the pain is due to:
The postural habits that are daily involved in the routines of our athletes, such as poor posture when we sit at work, lifting weights without adequate and correct postural education, standing for hours without resting, …
On the other hand, there is age , a factor closely related to the previous section, because there are repeated movements that occur throughout every day of our lives and that we must try to correct as soon as possible with our biomechanics. ; for example, an inadequate step during our continuous race.
Overloads due to poor sports planning also cause structural problems in the back. For this, the coaching staff must take into account different aspects so that the performance of our athlete is adequate at all times.
We must take into account the imbalances produced between different muscle groups (its problem has already been exposed in previous articles), which we will deal with later.
Finally, there are uncontrollable aspects such as those produced genetically , in which unfortunately there are fewer natural solutions for an adequate solution to be produced.
How can the lower extremity affect low back pain?
- Footprint type . If the footprint is not correct, the problems generated will not only be of the back but will extend to the lower extremities. It is essential to carry out a biomechanical test of our footprint and in this way be able to improve and know how to adapt our running shoes .
- Lower limb dysmetria . Basically it consists of having one leg longer than the other (with a small deviation of one centimeter). These imbalances can lead to lumbar scoliosis or pelvic torsion, among others.
- Lots of miles . Due to the volume carried out, it is possible to have overloads on the back due to not addressing adequate and individualized prevention and planning.
- Surface Type . The impact decreases on those asphalt surfaces favoring a lower possibility of suffering injuries in the race compared to other surfaces such as land or the beach, common places where running is usually practiced.
Prevention and treatment of back pain
To prevent back pain, it will be essential to avoid a sedentary lifestyle , get rid of laziness and become increasingly familiar with healthy lifestyle habits and active life is among them.
Likewise, performing compensatory muscle exercises is essential, strengthening both the abdominal area, the lower back and the entire back in general, together with good stretching, is essential for correct postural hygiene. This is achieved by avoiding excesses with unnecessary external loads and with which the body, and more specifically the back, can suffer.
As part of the treatment, there are various strength and flexibility exercises that can serve as a prevention method, in addition to modifying the postures that the athlete performs poorly and that, with the help of his physiotherapist, he can correct adequately. This is complemented by the application of an individualized treatment.
On the other hand, and in more extreme cases, the treatment to follow is surgery. For example, in a herniated disc, a vertebral fracture,…, obviously the recovery process is going to be more expensive, but with desire and good work you will achieve great and good results.
Improving, advancing and consolidating our sports career is essential to enjoy our favorite sport to the fullest; the running
Muscle pain: trigger points and referred pain AREAS
The trigger point is an area within the muscle in which some bands of the muscle are highly contracted. These points have a referred pain, which is the muscle itself in which they are exposed. These are sensitive to touch, that is, they are palpable and are very painful.
And its fashionable treatment consists of dry needling, which is the puncture of acupuncture needles so that the established pain disappears definitively.
What viscera radiate pain to the back?
If we have visceral problems , they will radiate pain to other areas of the body and the back is no less. According to authors such as José Luis Godoy Muelas, Eduardo Lechuga de Boer and Gloria Duque Huguet, this relationship is as follows:
- Stomach problem : cervical and dorsal pain.
- In the esophagus : between scapulae.
- Heart : upper region of the right scapula.
- Lungs : right side of the sword.
- Liver : nape.
- Small intestine : pain in the sacrum and buttocks.
- Large intestine and bladder : lumbosacral region.
- Kidneys : lumbar region.
- Pancreas : lower middle part of the back.
- In short, there is a lot of relationship between the organ and the area of pain.
Compensatory work of abdominal-lumbar and pelvic floor (core)
Finally, we think that compensatory abdominal-lumbar and pelvic floor work is very important to solve back pain. This work is called CORE, which consists of the combination of abdominal , lumbar and gluteal exercises.
The abdominals and lower back have the important mission of supporting the trunk , protecting the organs, having a better body posture and protecting the spine.
On the other hand, the glutes have the mission of stabilizing the hip and are involved in the upright position.
We also want to include in this compensatory work, the so-called cross training , which is a different type of training than what we are used to doing, but which makes us improve different physical capacities, as well as recover.
That I have to do?
For one reason or another, back pain will accompany us at different times of our lives, and if we do not remedy it through prevention , performing a good technique , good strength work , compensatory core and lumbar work and stretching , it is very likely that sooner than we want we will be faced with this problem .
On the other hand, good postural hygiene is essential from a very young age, that is, the educational work of Physical Education is key so that the athlete, when he is an adult, unconsciously performs a good body posture in an automated way or does not reproduce different problems. With this type of learning our performance will improve.