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"Benching" Bad for Backs

In sports like basketball, football, and volleyball, it is common practice to have resting or "second-string" players sit on the bench during a game. Yet long periods of sitting can cause low back pain, and unsupported sitting on a bench results in hunching over, which may shift the spinal ligaments and discs out of place and reduce stability. Athletes who warm up for play and then sit on the bench prior to play may therefore have an increased risk for injury.

Nine male volleyball players were measured for lower back stiffness initially; after a 30-minute warm-up period; and again after 30 minutes of bench rest (post-warm-up). Stiffness was measured for forward, side, and backward bends and twisting in this recent study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

On average, bench rest following warm-up led to increased lower back stiffness. Increased stiffness was present in side and backward bending. Surprisingly, warm-up had neither positive nor negative effects on spine stiffness, however.

The common practice of sitting second-string volleyball players on the bench after warm-up exercises for prolonged periods, then later sending them into the game, may increase the likelihood of spinal stiffness and back injury. These results may even apply to other sports that involve "benching" players. Players should always continue moving to keep their muscles warm prior to play. Your doctor of chiropractic can provide you with more tips on preventing back problems.

Reference:

Green JP, Grenier SG, McGill SM. Low-back stiffness is altered with warm-up and bench rest: Implications for athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2002:34(7), pp. 1076-1081.

For additional information on sports and fitness, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/sports.html

   

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