The spine, also called the back bone provides stability, smooth movement, and protects the delicate spinal cord. It is consists of bony segments called vertebrae and fibrous tissue called intervertebral discs. The vertebrae and discs form a column from the head to the pelvis providing symmetry to the body. The spine is divided into 3 major parts, the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), and the lumbar (low back).

Sports injuries occur when playing indoor or outdoor sports or while exercising. Some injures occur from accidents and some from inadequate training, or use of protective devices. The most common sports injuries in children are soft-tissue injuries and head injuries. Some injuries are minor such as bruises or sprains while others are permanent injuries. Sports injuries can be acute or chronic, acute injuries occur suddenly when playing or exercising and chronic injuries occur after playing or exercising for long time.

Injury to the spinal cord is caused by a fall or a blow that damage a portion of the spinal cord. Sports associated with spinal cord injury are, football, ice hockey, wrestling, diving in shallow water, skiing, snowboarding, rugby, and cheerleading. A spinal cord injury often causes weakness and loss of sensation at the site of injury.

Sports such as running and weightlifting damage the lumbar spine and football can cause cervical spine injury.

The common symptoms which a child experience when participating in sports include:

  • Low back strain or lumbar sprain is one of the cause of the common cause of low back pain that occur as a result of abnormal stretching or tearing of the muscle fibers and ligaments. Low back sprains or strains can be caused by sudden forceful movement, lifting heavy objects, or intense twisting movements
  • Upper back pain occurs as a result of sports that involve throwing action or repetitive practice of a certain stroke as in racquet sports
  • Back pain can be caused by bicycling, weight lifting, body building, golf, running, skiing, swimming, and tennis

Some of the measures that can prevent sports related back injuries in children include:

  • Enroll children in sports activities conducted in schools that have trained coaches
  • Sufficient stretching of lower and upper back muscles or warm-up exercises before playing sports is necessary to minimize the chance of muscle strains and soft tissue injury
  • Make sure that your child performs warm-up exercise which may help to reduce back strain and makes the back more flexible
  • Ensure that your child uses properly fitted protective gear for the specific sports activity to reduce the chances of injury
  • Encourage your child to drink at least 8 ounces of energizing fluids every 20 minutes when participating in sports
  • If your child is hurt, make sure to treat the injury with RICE mode of treatment. Rice is rest, ice, compression, and elevation
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