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Health Tips / Back Strain

Diagnosis and Symptons

Back injuries may be caused by several different factors but mostly relate to muscular, ligament or tendon damage in the lower back or lumbar region. Most people will experience back pain or injury at some stage of their life. The severity may range from mild short term pain to more severe conditions which may last several years or require surgery.

The back consists of a column of vertebrae, separated by discs, that runs from the neck to the tailbone. A complicated structure of muscles and ligaments is joined to the vertebral column and is responsible for movement. Overstretching or damage to any of these muscles ligaments or discs may result in back pain.

The most common cause is overstretched muscles or ligaments in the lower back. This may be the result of sudden movement such as twisting, turning or bending. Lifting heavy weights may place extra stress on the back and result in damage. Direct damage through contact sports such as rugby or football may be another reason. Poor sitting, standing or lying posture may result in back injury or pain.


Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness and occasionally muscle spasm.

Preventative Measures

Proper warm-up and stretching routines are vitally important in prevention. Never stretch in a jerky fashion. Strengthening and flexibility may be particularly important in preparing the back for sport.

Particular care and attention should be paid to addressing muscle imbalances. This could be a result of strengthening abdominal muscles without a corresponding strengthening of back muscles. Strengthening of legs, arms and shoulders may be helpful. Seek professional advice before exercising on a current injury.

Incorrect sports technique may be a contributory factor. Incorrect performance gym exercise such as abdominal crunches are often a source of injury as is poor weightlifting routine. Poor posture in sports such as cycling, motorsport and horseriding should be corrected. Technique should be assessed in sports involving sudden twisting or turning such as tennis or golf.

Lifestyle factors must also be examined. These include everything from sitting, standing and lying posture, choice of beds, or car seat. A wide variety of orthopaedic beds, chairs, chair inserts and lumbar rolls are available to help correct the problem.

Biomechanical assessment may show up deficiencies in walking or running gait which may predispose individuals to back injury. Specialised shoe inserts, orthotics, may be useful in some instances. Regular stretching is recommended when sitting or driving for long periods. Correct lifting technique is vital. The back should be kept straight while lifting while bending the knees. Lifting should be performed in a smooth, not jerky fashion. Being overweight may be a contributory factor in back pain or injury. Back supports may provide extra support for weakened backs. In the case of repeated or long term injury, specialised medical advice may be necessary.


For serious injury always consult your doctor or physiotherapist. 
To find a Chartered Physiotherapist in your area check

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00