Here’s a sight you don’t see often. LeBron James, arguably the greatest physical specimen in NBA history, lying on the ground near the baseline with towels under his head and low back. At age 30, beginning his 13th season in the league and having played over 40,000 minutes, James is exhibiting symptoms of Father Time’s effects on his body, especially his back.
James has been dealing with a back issue since 2006, when he started having back spasms during the post-season. In a new piece by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James’s efforts to combat his back problems are brought to light. Two weeks ago, it was widely reported that James received an anti-inflammatory shot in his back, causing him to miss most of the second half of the pre-season. It was a treatment similar to the one he received when he took two weeks off at the beginning of last season to work on his body down in Miami.
This season, James has started using exercise balls during pre-game warm-ups to help loosen up his back. He wears heating pads on his back before, during and after games. A few years ago, he started practicing yoga, in an attempt to proactively address his back tightness. And when he’s not on the court, instead of sitting on the bench, he stretched out on the baseline, à la Steve Nash (another superstar who suffered from back issues much of his career), to keep his back in a favorable position.
Even the most physically fit players in the world deal with nagging injuries. What’s important, as James shows us, are the methods they use to deal with them.