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Spine Health for Athletes: Preventative Measures and Injury Management
Spine Health for Athletes: Preventative Measures and Injury Management

Your spine is your axis of action. It's what keeps you bending, twisting, and moving like a pro. Let's talk about spine injury prevention and how you can play it smart to keep your spine in peak condition.

Preventative Measures: Keeping Your Spine Game-Ready

Proper warm-up and stretching: Warm-ups and cool-downs aren't just rituals; they're your spine's best friends. Engage in dynamic stretching and warm-up exercises to prepare the muscles surrounding the spine for physical activity. Cool down after activity with gentle stretches and deep breathing exercises to promote recovery

Core strengthening exercises: Strengthening the core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles, provides stability and support for the spine during athletic movements. Exercises like planks, bridges, and Superman exercises help strengthen your core.

Balance and stability training: Improving balance and stability can help reduce the risk of falls and spinal misalignments. Incorporate exercises like single-leg squats, stability ball exercises, and balance board drills into your training routine.

Injury Management: Recognizing Spinal Stress Signals

When your spine sends out an SOS with pain, numbness, or weakness, it's time for a time-out. Don't play through the pain; that's old school. New school is listening to your body and seeking appropriate care. Treatment for spine injuries may vary depending on the type and severity of the injury. It may include rest, medication for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and in some cases surgery.

Post-Injury Return to Play

Once the acute phase of treatment is complete and the injury has begun to heal, follow a tailored rehab program that addresses your injury and gradually reintroduce sport-specific activities. Start with low-impact activities and gradually increase intensity, duration, and complexity as tolerated. Monitor for any signs of pain, weakness, or recurrence of symptoms during the return-to-play process and adjust activity levels accordingly.

Injuries happen, even to the best of us. But it's not game over. With today's advancements in non-surgical spine treatments and minimally invasive spine surgery, you can get back to sports or activities you love.

AUTHOR: Dr. Brett Braly is a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. Dr. Braly is a leading advocate for minimally invasive techniques in spine surgery. Dr. Braly is named among the top “20 under 40” best spine surgeons by the North American Spine Society.

The Spine Clinic
The Spine Clinic of Oklahoma City
9800 Broadway Ext
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
Dr. Braly: Suite 203
Dr. Beacham: Suite 201