The Super Bowl and 3 other sporting events that can worsen lower back pain
There’s no greater sports tradition than sitting, planted on the couch waiting for the big game to start, surrounded by all the favorites. Favorite snacks, that is. What could go wrong, right? Aside from the extra fat and calories, there’s another issue to consider: The stress, which can dangerously increase heart rate and also worsen or create lower back pain.
Yes, the Super Bowl can be dangerous, and not just for those on the field. “According to a 2011 study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, the emotional stress experienced by fans of a losing team could increase an individual’s risk of heart attack,” said Huffington Post.
But while cardiac events are increased during stressful situations, it’s the stress to the body that’s of risk to a wider sample of the population, and that stress only increases if your team is playing or if you have a financial stake in the game’s outcome. “If you hold stress in your body, it can affect your back,” said WebMD. “You may begin to tense your back muscles, which can trigger low back pain or make it worse.”
Sitting too long during the game can also have a negative effect on your back, especially considering that the average Super Bowl is about three hours and 20 minutes. If you’re not getting up as often as you otherwise might because you’re also watching the commercials, that only makes it worse.
“Sure, injuries from sitting on the couch could technically qualify as a ‘football injury’ but not the kind that you would want to advertise,” said Forbes. “Passing out after you stand up and back injuries are just two of the many risks from sitting too long.”
To counteract the dangers associated with sitting around during the Super Bowl, remember to get up and stretch and/or walk around regularly to keep your muscles loose (and in accordance with any doctor’s orders you’re under). Sitting around with lots of guests for the game? The potential for injuries while watching the Super Bowl grow when you throw in a party atmosphere. Think a high-five is harmless? Not when it’s done with force and while bending over a table and other people, requiring you to twist your back into an uncomfortable position.
Going to a game
Of course, the Super Bowl isn’t the only sporting event that could affect your back, especially if you’re going to a game. If you have a chronic back injury, the mere act of walking into the stadium, climbing the stairs, and sitting in hard plastic seats could be enough to leave you in extreme pain. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Arrange to be dropped off as close to the entrance as possible and take an elevator if climbing stairs is painful
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory beforehand if that has proven helpful in the past
- Stay hydrated—It can help your entire body function better and help your joints and soft tissue stay healthy, warding off conditions like herniated discs and sciatica
- Bring a seat cushion that can help you stay comfortable
Taking in a baseball game
Tales abound of people who have been injured in the stands, on the stairs, on the field, and even outside of the stadium after arguing with a fan of the opposing team. Using caution in potentially incendiary circumstances is an important key to making sure you don’t get injured, but even seemingly innocent activities can cause low back pain you if you’re not careful.
You can generally consider yourself pretty safe sitting in your seat in the baseball stadium—until that foul ball comes flying toward you. And now you’re contorting your body and stretching and twisting and climbing over people to get it in your mitt. You may go home with a prize—and a whole new level of lower back pain and discomfort. Whether you’re trying to catch a ball or a pack of peanuts, it’s important to keep your head about you at the ballpark, or you might just end up tossing that ball around in the waiting room of the doctor’s office.
Golf meeting or pick-up basketball game
Let’s meet on the golf course today, your boss said. It’ll be fun, he said. You may think your meeting on the greens or your casual shoot-around with friends is harmless, but you could come away with a serious injury or worsen an existing one without the proper preparation and conditioning. If you’ve already suffered an injury or are dealing with lower back pain, ask your doctor first before taking on any unusual activity.
The good news is that advancements in minimally invasive techniques make eliminating lower back pain easier than ever to achieve. A variety of outpatient treatments are available, and, for those who may need to consider surgery, minimally invasive surgical procedures can involve small incisions and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.