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health watch: caron bush

Back pain in young athletes is not uncommon Running, jumping, swimming, volleyball, rowing. What do all of these have in common? Elevated incidence of non-specific back pain. Have you ever wanted to tell your parents or coach that your back doesn’t feel right? Or do you think children aren’t supposed the have back pain? Surprisingly, around 50-60 percent of kids do have some kind of back pain. There are a lot of reasons why your back may be hurting. Sometimes this achy or sharp back pain is associated with stress, scoliosis, bad posture, weak muscles or a stress fracture of the vertebrae (spondylolysis). The back muscles aren’t very big and aren’t meant to handle heavy loads. Injuries happen with repetitive loading of the vertebral facet joints, sudden twisting motion causing disc herniations, direct blow to the back or a fall can all affect the nerves, bones or muscles. It is always a good idea to mention to your coach and parent if you have any back pain. As a Physical Therapist who works with young athletes, I am always surprised at how long athletes play through pain and don’t complain because they want to stay competitive. Listen to your body and you will be a better athlete. If you experience any kind of pain it is your body’s way of saying that something is wrong. More often than not I am able to change the way an athletes moves to optimize their muscular control and limit their pain. Here are a few self help tips: ›› Keep your core/abdominals strong with planks, side planks ›› Limit the amount of hyperextension of your low back ›› Keep your hamstrings stretched, hold for 30 seconds three to four times before bed ✪ Caron Bush is a physical therapist for the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes, a division of Children’s Hospital Oakland.

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July 18, 2013

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BA Issue 69, July 18, 2013