Inline Skating Back Pain – Causes and Treatment
Both professional and beginner skaters complain about back pain. Skating requires some pressure on your core to keep your body up, and some of the more extreme movements can affect these core muscles in particular. If your back hurts from skating, it’s important to know why you’re suffering the pain, how serious it is and what you should do about it…What should I do about back pain from skating? If you are new to skating and suffering back pain it may be that you have not developed the core muscles to stabilise your spine in the skating position, or your back is too straight when skating. Fixing your form can help. If you are more advanced, it may come from extreme overuse, and a core exercise and stretching regime may be helpful.
Let’s dive into the possible causes and some suggested treatment for some types of back pain from skating, depending on your skating proficiency and symptoms. This is not medical advice and if you are suffering back pain you should seek the advice of a medical professional. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. But hopefully the below is some useful information.
Why Do I Have Back Pain From Skating And What Can I Do About It?
Between 5 – 10% of all athletic injuries are related to the lumbar (lower) spine, often because the athlete isn’t stabilising their spine thanks to insufficiently developed core muscles. Alternatively, it can be because of extreme stress on core muscles either from prolonged use, or sudden movements.
If you are new to skating there’s a chance your form is not perfect. Some people skate with a straight back (because often you are taught to do exercises like that, as with deadlifts), rather than a slightly arched back. You can improve this form by allowing a slight forward arch, but also ensuring you engage your core muscles to support you. Try holding in your stomach in a tensed position, and keeping your knees well bent.
There’s also a chance as a new skater your core muscles are not developed enough in which case exercises like the plank, the superman, or crunches, might be beneficial to build those muscles. It’s also possible this will just build through your skating as well. If you do experience continued pain you should not take it for granted it’s one of these reasons though, and you should consult a medical professional to help.
If you are a more advanced skater, it’s possible it’s for the same core muscle reasons and that the solution could be an exercise programme to help build your core so that your spine is kept stabilised when you skate.Speed skaters on a track (travelling in a counter-clockwise direction) often report left-sided symptoms, possibly explained by the athlete leaning on that side placing greater forces on the hips and sacroiliac joint (SI) on that side. In these cases, as long as the pain is not associated with an inflammatory process due to overuse (rather than joint hypomobility), self-mobilisation procedures may help. Maintaining muscle flexibility and strength is important, as is retraining functional coordination between multiple muscle groups. For example, with individually targeted lumbo-pelvic stabilisation exercises, proprioceptive training, and inline skating training activities.
What If My Back Pain Is Something More Serious?
The guidance above refers to the cases where you’ve put extra stress on the muscles causing a back strain (which it probably is in the majority of cases). This may be addressed by changing your form, reducing the duration and intensity of the activity, or building your core muscles, and balancing them out through stretches. However, back pain could also be from: Stress fracture: these can occur typically from overuse or hyperextension when you’re turning, or if you’re twisting particularly aggressively. More common among regular skaters who twist their bodies in different ways. Disc fracture: this might come from faling. So if you slip and land on your back or your bum your spinal discs can take the brunt of the force. Another serious cause unidentified: the body is an interesting system and pain that seems muscular in origin may not be. This is why it’s very important to consult a medical professional who can look at all your symptoms and give you a personal diagnosis. Do not rely on the internet to replace this.
For more serious issues, look out for these signs:
- Back pain lasts more than a few days
- The back pain affects your skating or training activities
- It’s accompanied by weak, numb or painful legs
- Problems controlling your bladder or bowels
- Regular sleep patterns are disrupted by the pain
- Any signs of infection like fever, chills or sweating
Visit a medical professional if any of these are the case, such as your Doctor or GP as they’re training means they’re more able to diagnose the issue in a much wider variety of ailments as compared to a physiotherapist.
How Do I Treat Back Pain From Skating?
Well, if you really need to treat it, and you are concerned, go to a medical professional for their advice. Below, there is a section on some common exercises you can do. There is also a section that gives recommendations on correct posture and form while skating. To control pain, anti-inflammatory medications (like ibuprofen) and muscle relaxants are often recommended. But all these are doing is masking the pain. Ibuprofen can be dangerous if taken too much, and this will not fix anything.
Bed rest is apparently not a good way to treat low back pain. Healthcare professionals can be consulted, such as physiotherapists , athletic therapists, chiropractors (but in all cases you’ll want to pick a good one) . Some of these therapies work for some people, others don’t work for some at all, check the evidence, as it is mixed for some of these professions in their treatment of back pain (Cochraine reviews are great places to see reviews of the state of scientific evidence on these different techniques).
Bad Posture Can Lead To Back Pain While Skating – What To Do
If you’re a beginner, a good tip might be to start out with shorter sessions. Another good tip is to take shorter strides while having a rolled forward back. Imagine you were skating in the rain (which you should never do) which forces you to be careful and engage your core more. You should feel it in your stomach. You should lean slightly forward, but your shoulders should not go over your knees and your pelvis should be tucked in. Also don’t have your bum sticking out by arching your back inwards, it should be bending forwards, but your core muscles are bringing your pelvis forward, tilted slightly up, belly button down towards your spine, upper back and shoulders relaxed. When you push sideways do so with your glutes (bum), some beginners push towards the back, which requires lower back muscles, which puts strain on the lower back.
So, it’s a mix of arching your back correctly, bending in the knees, and not pushing too wide when you’re more upright. Imagine your centre, and don’t stride too far widely when you skate.
What If I’ve Been Skating For A While? Or I’m A Speed Skater?
One study investigated the incidence of lower back pain reported in German elite speed skaters with non-traumatic low back pain. The left side was affected in the vast majority of cases, complaints were low-to-medium intensity, and were found to be related to the sacroiliac (SI) joint. Other structures were implicated in causing the pain, such as muscles, discs, and facet joints. It was inferred that the force associated with the counter clockwise track played a major role, as the athletes leaning inwards placing force on their hips and SI joints. Similarly, if you are placing a large amount of force on joints and muscles by performing some repeated types of movements, or one movement that was particularly stressing, other structures could be put under stress become strained and then by not allowing enough rest, you can exacerbate these injuries.
You want to catch these things early and allow the proper recuperation. See below for exercises recommended. Handy Tip: some report that pulling the hands tight into the small of the back on longer skates (15 miles or more), in the back like the pros, or held in front of you, can help you develop your core balance because you’re not using the hands as much to stabilise. Scary to start but easier after a while and helpful for your skating form. Of course, when you are pushing hard in a sprint or up a hill they’ll start to move, as short, quick sweeps synchronised to your legs, counteracting the body twisting due to the push.
Some have tried wearing a waist support belt like weightlifters use, but you would hope your core muscles would just develop enough to support you.
Exercises And Stretches That May Help With Skating Back Pain
It’s your core stabilizer muscles (abs and low back) that provide your platform. With this platform you use your hips and thighs to give you that push outwards. It’s the core, hips and thighs that are the big three when it comes to rollerblading. So the stronger and more balanced these muscles are, hopefully, the less chance of injury or strain on your back.
Stretching, balance exercises and plyometrics training – especially moving side to side – can help you develop these muscles and tendons.