Almost every athlete relies on the back muscles, bones and ligaments to compete at the highest level. Soccer players twist their backs in mid-air to head a pass towards the goal, hockey players bear down and battle in the corners while stretching and bracing themselves with their back and basketball players pivot and jerk from side to side, manipulating their backs to get through the defence. No matter the sport or the arena, athletes must take care of their backs to maintain total health and excel.
Injury Recovery Benefits of Back Braces. As a result of engaging in more intense physical activities, athletes run a higher risk of experiencing back injuries. Whatever the sport, athletes subject the spine to plenty of stress, pressure absorption, impact, turning or twisting. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of athletic injuries are lower back or spine related. Many cases of low back pain in athletes can be traced to either a discrete event or to repetitive minor injuries experienced over time and resulting in microtraumas.
Musculoligamentous Strain. A musculoligamentous strain is another way to describe a common back strain. This includes all soft tissue injuries (nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels) in the lumbar area. Musculoligamentous strains can deliver significant pain and take a while to heal if not cared for properly. While back strains will usually heal with proper rest and strengthening exercises, a back brace that offers compression and heat therapy can help speed up the recovery process and reduce pain at the same time.
Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a defect or stress fracture in the vertebrae and is most commonly found in athletes who frequently hyperextend the lumbar spine e.g. gymnasts, footballers and weightlifters. Symptoms include chronic lower back pain, which can stem from structural defects or compression of the nerves. If the diagnosis is severe, such as a true stress fracture, doctors may recommend a back brace to help the fracture heal before returning to sport. A back brace for spondylolisthesis works to stimulate blood flow and muscle activity to reduce inflammation and encourage healing. The benefits of back braces also include segmented stabilization of the spine, stabilizing compression and limited spine movement to prevent further slippage of the vertebra.
Herniated Disc. Due to excessive weight bearing and stress, athletes can damage an intervertebral disc, otherwise known as a herniated disc. The intervertebral discs are flat, round shock absorbers between each vertebra of the spine. Since athletes place more pressure on the spine than others, these repeated daily stresses and minor injuries can begin to affect the discs in the spine. A herniated disc occurs when pressure on the outer disc fibers causes it to rupture and displaces the nucleus from its normal space. The resulting nerve compression can produce symptoms like numbness, pain, altered reflexes, and/or tingling sensations in the arms or legs.
The benefits of back braces to those afflicted include support for the lower back by providing compression and stability.