(Part 2) The best thing hockey players can do for their back pain
Is back pain still keeping you on the bench? In my last blog, we went over how resting is the worst thing you can do for your back and how rest deconditions your body and lengthens the amount of time it takes to heal.
In this blog, let’s talk about what you can do to feel better quickly and get back out on the ice as soon as possible. Staying active is the best thing you can do for your back. Staying active, while sometimes uncomfortable, reduces the amount of disability and long term perceived pain.
Staying active keeps your body in a more conditioned state and prevents the muscles and joints from becoming stiff. With that said you can go overboard and do too much activity. There is a fine line between staying active and aggravating your injury. The goal is to stay on the right side of that line. We have a term for this, it’s called optimal loading.
Optimal loading is the idea of moving or stressing a structure in a way that puts a load on it that is optimal or in other words performing activities that make the area work but not so much so that injury results. The best way to ensure you are in this zone is by listening to your body. When you are performing an activity, it is okay to feel discomfort, but you want to avoid severe and intense pain.
In general low-level pain that is felt during movement but ceases after movement is an acceptable amount of discomfort. On the other hand, pain that is sharp or intense during movement or continues for a long period after you are done moving is unacceptable and possibly an indication of damage being done.
The best movements to start with are the simple ones and then progress from there. Start with just slow walking, then once that feels okay move on to normal walking, running, and eventually skating. For the most part, just follow your common sense and listen to what your body tells you. Don’t return to contact too soon, but it’s okay to slowly do more and more.
Once you start to feel more comfortable staying active with low back pain, you can begin to perform more targeted exercises, movements, and treatments to help you progress quicker and heal faster. If you are lucky enough to not have intense low back pain then it’s a good idea to start doing those things before it gets to that point.
With that said you want to make sure you are targeting things appropriately. The best way to do that is to know the exact cause of your pain and what you can do to attack it. I’ll go over those things in the next blog.
I help get athletes out of pain and back to enjoying their active lifestyles. I’m a certified chiropractic sports practitioner, certified strength and conditioning specialist, an emergency medical responder and the team chiropractor for The Pittsburgh Vengeance. I also play hockey in my free time at a very mediocre level. -Alex Tauberg DC, CCSP, CSCS