Low back pain in gymnasts can be devastating. It can completely immobilize a gymnast and create immense pain.
There are four main conditions causing low back pain in gymnasts.
- The most common is Hip Flexor Tightness.
- Back strains or low back muscle “pulls”
- SI Joint Sprain with pain in glute region (butt)
- Stress reaction/fracture aka, Pars Fracture or Spondylolysis
Hip Flexor Tightness
We’ve created a special post to address hip flexors. Click here to see this post.
Back Muscle Strains
Back muscles strains are most common when a gymnast does not warm up properly, or over uses their back during events. It can also occur during a sudden jerking movement if your gymnast gets into an awkward situation.
For at home care, ice, stretching and applying KT Tape as soon as possible is the best solution. Rest can help, but isn’t necessarily the answer, but being careful only to move in pain free ranges of motion while training will increase healing time.
KT Tape is important in this instance to increase proprioception of back movement, or knowing where your back is in space so you can move it more effectively. For Gymnast, we use an ‘H’ patter with a horizontal strip directly over the site of pain, stretching the tape 50-80%, and two vertical strips along the paraspinal muscles (the long vertical musculature directly on each side of the spine) to provide additional support during movement. Video to come!
Icing should be done for 15-20 minutes every hour the gymnast is home before or after gym.
Gentle range of motion stretching can be done to help alleviate any muscle tightness which might occur.
SI Joint Sprain
This injury is uncommon in young gymnasts unless they are landing after a twisting motion and this usually occurs over time. This occurs because the forces produced during the movement is greater than the strength of the gymnasts core.
The Gymnast Care Core Progression should be started immediately. Click here for the first three exercises.
To alleviate the pain, ice 15-20 minutes every hour home, stretch the piriformis muscle, roll out the IT Bands, and gentle chiropractic or physical therapy manipulations/stretches are the best for this injury.
Once again, KT Tape can be very powerful to help relieve pain and increase movement. Here are two videos. Use the first for all SI Joint pain, and the second if there is glute pain.
Stress Reaction/Stress Fracture
This injury needs to be overseen by an Orthopedic Surgeon.
If you feel your pain has increased in intensity and has not improved over time, you have worked hard on stretching your hip flexors, and still have seen no results, see an Orthopedic Surgeon.
To alleviate pain, make sure you continue stretching your hip flexor muscles, utilize ice and KT Tape as shown above.
Rest is critical for this injury to improve.
If you have any specific questions, please contact us by calling or using our Contact Page.