Back pain for many, not just athletes, is more than just discomfort. It can be debilitating and counterproductive. Athletes are the ones who come to mind when we talk of back pain but surprisingly, non-athletes who have desk jobs or who lead couch potato lives are just as vulnerable.
In a New York Times article, “Twist and Ouch”, Gretchen Reynolds writes:
To build a better back, most experts agree, you need a solid core. “The core” is one of those areas of the body that coaches and athletes refer to constantly but few people can accurately locate. “It’s not just the abdominal area, as many people think,” says Vijay Vad, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and a back-care adviser to the PGA Tour and the professional men’s tennis circuit. “To really include all of the elements that move and stabilize the spine, you have to go from your knees to your nipples. That’s the core.”
The muscles, ligaments and tendons that make up the elaborate core muscle system provide rigging for the spine. The rectus, transverse and oblique abdominals, for instance — the big muscles at the front and sides of the spine — are particularly important in stabilizing the back. So are the less familiar intertransversi, interspinalis and multifidus muscles, which link to the larger abdominal group but which rarely figure in magazine articles about washboard abs. Each of these muscles must be strong and supple if the spine is to remain stable.
In that article, Michael Higgins, the director of athletic-training education at Towson University in Maryland and the author of several prominent academic articles about back injuries in athletes was also quoted as stating how important endurance was. “Without endurance, what you often see is that near the end of a game, the muscles can’t quite control the movement of the spine adequately anymore.”
There are a few other things Higgins points out in this article:
* Sports involving power (football, boxing) and consistency (golf) can be the undoing of one’s back. Strength is not the answer.