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Back Pain and Basketball

By Stephen R. Farris

I'm a huge basketball fan. I was fortunate -- in my opinion -- to grow up during what I call the "golden age" of the sport, taking place between the late 1970s to the early '90s. During that period stars like Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird were fresh out of college, while proven talent such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving (Dr. J) and many others too numerous to name were in their prime. Then Michael Jordan, Xavier McDaniel (the X-Man), Charles Barkley and a host of fresh faces in the mid 1980s came along.

I remember when Barkley entered the National Basketball League (NBA), he was a portly guy and announcers would pick on him by mentioning that if he didn't drop some weight early in his career, he would end up with major back problems. For some reason, that has always stuck in my mind. 

There is some truth to what they were talking about back then. Players not only end up with injuries related to ankles, knees, elbows and shoulders, but may also develop problems in their lower back or in the hips, due to constant jumping, twisting and turning and endless running up and down those hardwood or concrete/asphalt courts.

It's not only with college and pro athletes, but trickles down into the high school, middle school, youth programs and of course, the weekend warrior types as well. But you can do things to prevent back problems due to playing basketball and treat those injuries too.


Typically, we may do a few jumping jacks, knee bends or twisting from side to side to loosen up before games. But take a look at the pregame warm-ups they do in the NBA. Of course they have trainers to assist, but you can also grab a teammate to help you stretch. Sacramento Kings players not only stretches arms and legs, but also add stretching for their hips, back, shoulders and neck areas as well. Check in with your local chiropractor, as they can give you tips on what kind of stretching exercises you can do, especially if you're into sports like basketball or other recreational activities.

Feeling Pained?

While over the counter medication can help relieve inflammation from an injury, you might want to try icing or heating the area, alternating between the two. But seek the advice of a medical professional, including consulting with your chiropractor. If the pain persists, your local chiropractor can examine you and suggest treatment to help relieve the pain and get you back out onto the court quicker.

As to Barkley's outcome, he did slim down and had a stellar playing career that lasted 16 years.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Sacramento, Calif.

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