What exercise can help keep my low back healthy for a soccer season?

Paul Winsper
Sports Medicine
The ability for an athlete to stabilize the low back and pelvis will help keep the back healthy.  In order for the spine to be appropriately stabilized, a mixture of flexibility and strength is required. Tight muscles can pull the spine and pelvis out of proper alignment which can cause pain or injury. These tight muscles will need to be stretched to reset them back to their proper lengths. Common muscles that need to be stretched include your inner thighs, hip flexors, and latissimus dorsi (large back muscle). When stretching these muscles, be sure to hold each stretch for 30 seconds to allow the muscles enough time to relax and elongate. After stretching tight muscles, it will be important to strengthen weak muscles that help stabilize and support your pelvis and spine. Common muscles that need strengthening include your gluteals and abdominals. Incorporate the following exercises into your training program: quadruped opposite arm/leg raise (bird dog), floor bridge, and prone iso-ab (plank). These exercises will help improve the endurance of the core muscles and establish a foundation from which your extremities can work.  Once these exercises have been mastered and/or low back pain has subsided, the next step is to perform exercises that are a little more challenging for the core such as cable chops, cable lifts, and cable rotation. Finally, add some explosive core exercises like the medicine ball oblique throw and the medicine ball pullover throw to your training program.  By following a progression for the core like the one above you will be able to maintain low-back health for a season and for life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.