Now that football season has officially started and is in full swing, it’s important to watch out for symptoms of injuries. Some of the most common football injuries are those to the back. The nature of the game requires hard impacts, twisting the torso, and other activities that can lead to a back injury.
With some back injuries, you know immediately when they happen, while others are not so obvious right away. As the season progresses, pay attention to these symptoms:
- Discomfort during normal activities
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Limited range of motion
- Tenderness or stiffness in the neck or back
If you do have a back injury from playing football, follow these tips to help you recover as quickly as possible.
Tips for Common Football Back Injuries
It’s important to see a medical professional if you think you have any type of serious injury, but these quick tips can help you through the recovery process:
1. Address herniated discs and spinal injuries early
Many football players are familiar with the discomfort associated with a herniated disc. Often caused by a sharp, forceful bend or twist in the back, a herniated disc puts pressure on the spinal nerves. The associated symptoms may include weakness, tingling, or numbness, often in only one side of the lower back or in one leg. If the herniated disc is in the upper spine, the same symptoms may occur in one side of the neck or in one arm.
Herniated discs and other types of spinal injuries can be quite uncomfortable, but they don’t always limit an athlete’s ability to perform. However, this is not a reason to continue to play. Treating spinal injuries early and before they worsen can help prevent a prolonged recovery and possibly even help you avoid surgery. Herniated discs are often treated with rest, cold and compression therapy, and over-the-counter pain medication. A doctor might also prescribe a stronger pain medication or steroid injection during times when it is necessary.
2. Don’t ignore pulled back muscles
Pulled back muscles are common in athletes of all types, not just football players. This soft-tissue injury is typically characterized by sudden sharp pain, swelling, tenderness, and limited range of motion. Some people also experience muscle spasms with a pulled back muscle. In most cases, this injury can be treated with rest, cold and compression therapy, and the appropriate pain medication.
While it is tempting for football players to “play through the pain” of a pulled back muscle, this may likely only exacerbate the injury and make the recovery process last longer. If you have experienced a pulled back muscle, it’s important to avoid athletic activity until you are fully recovered, even if you are still able to play in the later stages of recovery.
3. Use cryotherapy to accelerate recovery
Most athletes understand the importance of applying cold and compression after an injury to help control swelling, but many do not realize that these same therapies can be used throughout the recovery process to help the body heal faster. Applying therapeutic cold and active compression at the same time enables cold to penetrate deeper into muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and last longer. This leads to faster healing and the ability to get off the bench faster.
Ways to Prevent Common Football Injuries
Preventing an injury is always a better approach than treating one. Football players can help avoid back injuries through activities such as:
- Strength training
- Increasing flexibility
- Using proper technique
- Doing physical therapy
- Avoiding overuse
However, even with the best attempts at prevention, injuries sometimes happen. Understanding the symptoms and staying committed to a full recovery will help you have a longer athletic career.
If you think you might have any of these common football injuries, consult with a physician to get a diagnosis. In addition to any other type of medical treatment you might need, ask the physician about how you can get a Game Ready cold therapy system to help you recover faster. You can also use our provider locator to find a physical therapist or other professional who offers Game Ready near you.