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  • Writer's pictureSimon Coghlan MSc, BSc Physio, DipMedAc

Encouraging Active Steps for Long-Term Back Health in Young Athletes

As parents, we naturally want to ease our children's discomforts, whether from the rough and tumble of sports or the sedentary hours spent in school. It's common for kids, especially those active in sports like rugby, like our son, to experience back stiffness and soreness. 

When our son asks us for a quick 'crack' of his back, it provides him with temporary relief, but it's also a crucial moment to guide him towards more sustainable, long-term solutions for their health and well-being.

rugby player back pain

The Drawback of Passive Treatments

While manual adjustments can feel like an immediate solution to discomfort, relying solely on these passive treatments can lead to a cycle of temporary relief without addressing underlying issues. This can be like putting a band-aid on a problem requiring a more thorough approach.

The Power of Active Management

Encouraging our son to take a proactive role in managing his back health is a wise move. 

Here's why incorporating foam rolling, stretching, stability exercises, and posture awareness are not just temporary fixes but vital steps towards long-term wellness:

Foam Rolling: This self-myofascial release technique helps loosen muscle tightness and trigger points of tension that accumulate from physical activity and prolonged sitting. By integrating foam rolling into his routine, our son can enhance his muscle elasticity and maintain a better range of motion.

Stretching: Regular stretching, especially after intense physical activity, can significantly improve flexibility and decrease the risk of injuries. It helps relax the muscles stiffened by constant exertion and long periods of sitting during classes.

Stability Exercises: Core stability is crucial, especially for athletes. Exercises that enhance core strength can improve his overall athleticism and reduce the stress on his back. These exercises teach the body to activate core muscles effectively, providing a protective brace for his spine during physical activity and everyday movements.

Posture Awareness: Poor posture is common for many, exacerbated by hours spent sitting at desks. Educating our son on the importance of good posture and how to maintain it can prevent the development of back pain and structural complications over time.

Implementing the Changes

Starting with simple, achievable goals:

Creating a Routine: We encourage him to spend a few minutes each morning or evening performing these exercises. When we can, we make it a joint activity—where I would stretch or do a foam roll session with him.

Set Reminders: By setting reminders on his phone or notes around his study area to correct his posture regularly.

Educate: Explaining the importance of these activities in a way that empowers him. Also, showing him how taking charge of his body's needs can improve his performance in sports and daily life.

By supporting these healthier habits, we aim to alleviate his current aches and pains and encourage his dreams of excelling in sports without being held back by preventable injuries. We are also reducing long-term injury concerns by equipping him with the tools he needs to protect and strengthen his body.

Taking a proactive approach to back health teaches valuable lessons in self-care and responsibility, fostering an attitude that we hope will benefit him far beyond the rugby field or the classroom.

If you'd like some guidance for your children, the right advice and a good exercise programme, please get in touch.

By Simon

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