Keep your lower back healthy with these smart fixes and prevention techniques.
Back pain is one of those injuries that triathletes typically tolerate and train through. That is, until it becomes a problem that can’t be ignored. Dr. John Ball, a chiropractor and endurance sport specialist, says “many triathletes continue to train with lower back pain and stiffness, and I don’t see them until the condition develops into a serious problem that forces them to stop their training.”
That serious problem is frequently an injury to one of the lumbar disks, leading to significant back pain—and even nerve pain in one of the legs. In some instances these more serious cases can present with unrelenting hip, hamstring or calf pain, tingling or “tightness” that is caused by pressure on a lower-back nerve. Like other overuse injuries, stress to the disks is cumulative and is usually the result of the repetitive bending and impact that is part of every triathlete’s daily training. Coach Matt Dixon of Purplepatch Fitness warns, “Low back issues often arise when the athlete falls into the ‘more is better’ mentality of training, and only works on the engine, while ignoring the chassis of the body.”