Back Pain : Judo Injuries

A majority of people experience back pain at some point in their lives, and a demanding contact sport like judo can end up leading to back pain through accidents, overwork or errors of technique.

Symptoms of Back Pain

The back pain can manifest in different forms. For example, it can be sharp and stinging, stopping and starting intermittently, or feel more like a dull ache that may be almost continuous. The pain might strike at a particular point on the spine or up and down the back.

Causes of Back Pain

Judo manoeuvres frequently include lifts, strikes and throws. These are used both in competition and during sparring, so the possibility of injury can be high. The focus on landing on the back plus constant twisting and stretching can be damaging, especially if the muscles are not up to the task. Previous back pain can be exacerbated by judo. With well-trained athletes the risks should be significantly reduced, but there are two main concerns with less experienced or proficient athletes:

Falling Techniques

The first of these is a poor falling technique which can afflict newer judo participants. Correct falling is essential for maintaining safe weight distribution throughout the body when landing from throws and suchlike. By practising so that weight is distributed to areas like your arms and legs, the back should not receive an excessive amount of pressure from a fall. Remaining tense while falling can increase the risk of back pain, so becoming comfortable with falling should also help to combat pain.

Throwing Techniques

A related cause is the technique of the thrower. Inadequate throwing or lifting can cause back pain to either the thrower or the faller. For example the faller may land awkwardly due to a sloppy throw, or the thrower might make the lift with their back rather than their legs. Lifting should always come from the legs and not the back, with the athletes close together. A lift must also not be too sharp.

Treatment for Back Pain

If the back pain is severe then you should see a doctor in order to rule out any serious spinal injuries that would worsen should you continue with the judo. In most cases of minor back pain, however, a period of rest and taking analgesic medication should be sufficient to relieve the symptoms. Physical therapy can be beneficial in some cases, particularly if you are out of action for a number of weeks. But this does not necessarily address the cause of the pain, and if one of the above concerns (e.g. throwing or falling techniques) contributed to the injury then it is important to modify your activities accordingly, which can mean more exercising or working to master certain techniques.

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