Athlete's Guide to Back Injury Rehabilitation

Low Back Pain

Are you suffering from a lower back injury?  The following are some strategies your team physician, athletic trainer, physical therapist or conditioning coach may use to help you get back in the game.

Taping, bracing and supports

Sometimes there is a need for some type of back brace, back support and/or taping technique for pain management.


The rehab staff will decide if you need cold, heat, ultrasound, infrared light, electrical stimulation, traction, and/or a whirlpool treatment for pain management and healing.


Rehabbing your injury may require soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, manual stretching and/or passive range of motion.

Therapeutic exercise

  • Dynamic Warm-up: Should movement preparation exercises be done with a neutral spine, spine flexion or spine extension?
  • Endurance: How should your aerobic movements progress from a spine-unloaded focus (such as a pool program) to a spine-loaded focus (such as riding a stationary bike with a flexion bias or walking on a treadmill with an extension bias)?
  • Strength: How should your strength program progress from static exercises (such as supine dead bugs) to dynamic exercises (such as bridging, squats, rowing or pull-downs)?
  • Flexibility: How should your stretching program progress from static exercises (such as holding a hip flexor stretch for 30 seconds) to dynamic exercises (such as Lunges to stretch the hip flexors)?
  • Balance: How should your balance program progress from static exercises (such as single leg stance, tandem stance, or yoga poses) to dynamic exercises (such as Tai Chi, BOSU ball, or wobble boards)?

Sport-specific conditioning

The rehab and conditioning staff will decide which sequence of sport-specific drills you need to get back to your game.

(See also Cure and Avoid Low Back Pain With These Rehab Techniques.)

Topics: BACK

Z Altug Z Altug - Z Altug, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He recently published Sustainable Fitness: A Practical...
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