Lower back pain is the most common complaint we deal with in orthopedic practice, and while it isn’t the most common winter sports injury, it is still possible to injure this area on the slopes.
Lower back pain may come on due to overuse, especially at the start of the season, when we are getting used to an unaccustomed activity again. Or symptoms may start following an acute injury, usually a hard or slightly awkward landing, or a rapid change of direction movement that the body wasn’t prepared for.
Unless there are accompanying neural symptoms such as numbness or weakness, imaging for basic lower back pain is not required, regardless of the severity. A physical examination will help identify a direction of pain and level of impairment. A certain period of avoidance of painful movement will help settle symptoms (manual therapy, taping and/or analgesic medication may be useful adjuncts), but most lower back pain of acute onset will settle in a few weeks. Your physiotherapist can run you through a return to sport screening to identify when you are safe to return to skiing or snowboarding.
Although some episodes of lower back pain are not preventable, avoiding doing too much too quickly, avoiding skiing or boarding while excessively fatigued, and following the other guidelines in our “ski injury prevention tips” article will decrease your likelihood of injury. Specific strengthening and endurance work can also improve the capacity of the body to resist excessive movement through the back and therefore decrease the risk of harm. Please refer to our “ski-fit” posts for ideas, or come and consult with one of our experienced trainers or therapists, who can help design a back injury program specific to your needs.
If you have suffered a back injury on the slopes then contact us now and let us help guide you on the path to recovery.
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