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One of the many roles of an American little league baseball coach is to know how to deal with common sports injuries. Prevention of course is the preferred action, but treatment is needed for when injuries occur. Lower back strain is one of the more common injuries with baseball players. It happens because of improper strengthening and stretching exercises, lifting improperly, and doing unpracticed sports activities without proper technique.
Prevention: To increase lower back strength, work with an exercise ball. Lean backward over it, letting it support your back as it stretches it. You can also use the ball to strengthen the core muscles through balance exercises, abdominal crunches, and lower back contractions. For the lower back contractions, lay with the stomach against the exercise ball with the feet on the floor; knees should be straight. Lean over the ball in a relaxed position with the arms on the back of the head and use the lower back muscles to push upward, lifting the chest off the ball and suspending it in the air. The body should reach a straight position before relaxing back down to the ball. To increase abdominal strength, use the ball in stability drills and sit ups.
Other prevention methods include learning proper lifting techniques, which promote lifting with the legs and not with the back. The leg muscles are much more powerful than the lower back muscles, so using them to lift heavy objects keeps your body healthy and happy. Also, proper posture when sitting and standing takes pressure off the lower back and can help prevent an injury.
Treatment and Recovery: Recovery for lower back pain usually takes several weeks. Light activity actually helps speed recovery, so complete rest is not necessary. Bed rest for more than a day or two can actually make pain worse, so stay active and walking around. However, athletes should not continue with all normal activities if they cause pain. Activities should be reduced in intensity and length, making sure to stop at the first sign of pain.
If pain has not subsided after a week, see a doctor for treatment. Often, a chiropractor or orthopedic surgeon can realign the back to alleviate pain. The doctor can also prescribe muscle relaxers to prevent spasms and help with pain management. Once activity is resumed, the athlete should be careful to stretch and condition the back to maintain flexibility and prevent re-injuring the area. Light stretching should be done just after the injury to help reduce stiff and sore muscles.