Low Back Pain In Competitive Gymnasts | Do Gymnasts Have Back Problems Later In Life?

Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport. Gymnasts have to undergo rigorous training and intense practice sessions to keep their bodies fit to perform complex activities. According to statistics, female gymnasts train for about 40 hours a week on average. In such circumstances, injuries are a regular occurrence.

Elbow dislocation, wrist and ankle sprains, and lower back pain in competitive gymnasts are the most common injuries. 

It is reported that every year over 86,000 injuries related to gymnastics are treated all over the world. Wrists, hands, shoulders, knees, ankles, and lower back are the most common injury-inflicted areas for gymnasts.

Most often the reason for these injuries is stress caused by overuse of these body parts. 

There are many questions that come to a parents’ mind before enrolling their child in gymnastics. The most frequent one is about low back pain in competitive gymnasts. Here are answers to some of the recurring questions about gymnastics and back pain. 

How Does Gymnastics Affect The Body?

Gymnastics is a very high-impact sporting activity. It requires a great deal of agility, flexibility, and strength to reach the top spot in competitive gymnastics. Gymnastics training involves intense workouts targeting different body parts to improve core and muscle strength. Scientific studies also suggest that regular gymnastics training can affect the growth of children. 

Gymnasts perform different activities such as leaps, flips, balances, and turns using specially designed equipment. This improves the flexibility and strength of the joints and muscles. It is a proven fact that gymnasts have high bone mineral density, lumbar support, and tissue mass due to the intense training they undergo. 

Gymnasts are susceptible to a high level of physiological and psychological stress. Broken bones, sprains, and injuries due to overuse are common problems faced by competitive gymnasts. However, these problems are generally not severe. Gymnasts can easily recover from them with timely treatment. 

Can Gymnastics Cause Back Problems? 

Gymnastic performances require hyperextension of the spine and rotational movements, which puts immense pressure on the back. This stress causes back pain and other problems. Low back pain in competitive gymnasts is one of the most reported injuries according to medical practitioners. 

Lumbopelvic dysfunction and stress fractures in the spine are the leading reasons for back pain in gymnasts. Proper training and the right technique can help gymnasts to avoid back pain and injury. 

Is Gymnastics Bad For Your Spine?

Gymnastics training starts in early childhood and requires consistent practice to achieve the flexibility required to perform challenging stunts such as backbends, forward bends, bridges, handsprings, backward and forward walkovers, etc. 

Spine stretching is one of the most performed training in gymnastics. Intense stretching exercises performed from a young age are known to cause spinal abnormalities. 

The methods of performing various gymnastic routines have evolved with time and modern practices ensure that there is less pressure on the spine. However, It is advisable to learn gymnastics under the supervision of able coaches to avoid bad posture while training. 

Why Does My Back Hurt After Gymnastics?

Body positioning is the main reason for backache after the gymnastics session. Using one segment of the spine to arch instead of using the entire back for a uniform arch causes stress on the spine and leads to back pain. Some other reasons for back pain after gymnastic sessions include

  • Problems with mobility of hips or spine
  • Weak core 
  • Inability to control abdominal muscles
  • Improper training

How Do You Get Rid of Back Pain from Gymnastics?

It is advisable to visit a specialist if you suffer from persistent back pain after gymnastics. The specialist will screen you and determine the exact reason for the back pain. 

If the pain is not severe and caused due to a ligament or muscular sprain, simple icing and rest can alleviate the pain. You can also perform some Physical Therapy exercises advised by your coach. However, if the pain lasts for more than 3 days, it is necessary to visit a healthcare professional. 

Do Gymnasts have Back Problems Later In Life? 

Gymnasts are prone to suffer back pain due to the immense stress on the spine caused during practice and performance. One of the major reasons for low back pain in competitive gymnasts is that it is not treated in the initial stages. Most gymnasts and trainers tend to ignore the pain in the early stages and suffer the consequences later in life. 

The aging process of the body and additional stress such as pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, etc. cause chronic back pain in retired gymnasts. To prevent back problems and stay fit,  gymnasts follow a set training and fitness routine. Moreover, timely rehabilitation programs also help to keep low back pain in competitive gymnasts at bay. 

Gymnastics is a demanding sport that requires intensive training and practice. The various activities performed during the gymnastics session cause pressure on the spine and back muscles. One of the most reported injuries is low back pain in competitive gymnasts. Gymnasts can continue with their sport if they take timely treatment and rehabilitation for the injuries. Moreover, proper training and guidance from the beginning will reduce the chances of injury.