by Matthew Bennett of Sundial Clinic
Back pain amongst skiers and snowboarders is quite common. Alpine sports can be hard work on the body, particularly if your fitness is not as good as it could be, or if you take a tumble. Fortunately, the few simple tips and exercises below can help.
Skiing and snowboarding are remarkably safe compared to other sports. Most people are surprised at how low the injury rate is - There are only around three injuries per thousand skier days. This is slightly higher amongst snowboarders, who are also three times more likely to have spinal injuries compared to skiers, and they have a higher incidence of upper limb injuries. However, what doesn't show in these statistics is that mild back strains can go on to cause recurrent episodes of back pain, which if left alone can cause misery.
Mild back strains can occur during a fall, but are more common if you hit unexpected terrain (such as ice, for example), as it requires a rapid adjustment of body position. Even something as simple as bending over to put your boots on first thing in the morning can irritate a tired back. These problems can go unnoticed, as they are often not painful initially.
What can go wrong with the back?
Most back problems are caused by a combination of:
- - Joint stiffness
- - Muscle spasm
- - Disc wear
Occasionally a disc will prolapse and press on a nerve causing sciatica, which can be very painful and prolonged without proper care, but fortunately this doesn't happen very often. All of these problems can be made worse by weak core and back muscles, but this is simple to fix, even if it requires a bit of effort.
What can we learn from ski racers?
When the ski season draws to a close, ski racers on the international circuit will be looking forward to a short break from their time on the slopes. Off-season training will then begin and will consist of strength and conditioning training, including flexibility and balance exercises. They will also be working with their physios, massage therapists and chiropractors to try and iron out any persistent injuries.
Off-Season Exercise Programme
If you are a keen recreational skier or snowboarder, it is an excellent idea to improve strength and flexibility over the summer months, as a blast of intense exercising two weeks before your next ski trip is probably not going to be very helpful! Almost all activity is useful, especially if you are relatively sedentary during the working week.
We have put together a simple series of the best exercises which will bring the biggest benefits for strength and balance to not only improve current episodes of back pain but also to reduce the likelihood of getting back pain again. They should also help to improve your skiing or snowboarding:
Sundial Clinic understand how frustrating a bad back can be and the anxiety it causes in doing simple things. You shouldn’t have to avoid leading an active life because of pain and stiffness - Back pain can be treated with an effective step-by-step programme to rebuild a strong and healthy back, so that you can lead an active and fulfilling life.
If you would like to solve your back pain, you can call Sundial Clinic for a FREE consultation, or book online:
Queens Road, Brighton: 01273 774114
St James's St, Brighton: 01273 696414
Matthew Bennett is a chiropractor at Sundial Clinic in Brighton - He has worked with many professional sports teams, including the British Ski Team, and he has over 30 years' experience in solving back pain.