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.
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,
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
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.