Lower Back Pain and Swimmers

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Lower Back Pain and Swimmers

A number of Triathletes suffer from lower back pain. This is often attributed to time spent on the bike. I have found that a more conservative Time Trial bike position actually gives the spine a break from the rigors of swimming and running.

It is true that swimming provides a non-weight bearing form of exercise and that swimming is a low impact activity. However the athlete suffering from Lower Back Pain should also be aware of the following factors:

1.            In a study done by Hangai et al, American Journal of Sports Medicine, the authors found a significant increase in risk of disk degeneration. The authors believe that this might be due to the frequency of trunk rotation.
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2.            Many swimmers also tend to arch the back and hips, the technical term for this is an Anterior Pelvic Tilt thus causing a temporary lordosis of the lumbar region of the spine.  This can shorten the Spinae Erectors and Quadratus Lumborum muscles.

A Bit of Practical Advice.

1.            Make sure that your Hamstring muscles and lower back muscles are  stretched regularly.
2.            Do a proper warm-up and warm down in the water.

3.            Mix your strokes between Freestyle, Backstroke and Breaststroke.
4.            Tumble turn at the end of each length if you can, this will pull your back out of any Lordosis position.
5.            Pop in here or ask your Physio to perform a Thomas test. The test is used to determine the tightness of your hip flexors. If these are tight they will also place excessive stress on your lower back.
6.            If in doubt, check it out. Consult your GP or Physio if pain continues.

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