At our practice we treat persistent and chronic low back pain conditions that occur in young people who are amateur or professional athletes (mainly in football, basketball, volleyball, rowing, tennis, martial arts, cyclists and runners).
These athletes usually have been diagnosed with one or more lumbar herniated disks, with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.The problem starts gradually with a mild discomfort in the back and initially subsides automatically. Later, the symptoms occur more frequently, usually after the training is over and the body cools down, and finally they become more severe, to the point where the athlete cannot participate in sports activities anymore.
When the attending physician determines that the athlete must undertake a physiotherapy program, we make the assessment, and devise a targeted treatment plan.
The evaluation of the joint mobility, the mode of activation of muscle groups and the motor control strategies used during functional testing reveals the mechanism that causes and maintains the vicious cycle of strain, trauma and dysfunction.
Temporarily, the athlete ceases the sporting activities and instead participates in a daily “workout” with exercises that aim in re-training the correct, efficient motor patterns. The first improvement is observed after the first 1-2 days and shows that we are on the right track. A fast recovery largely depends on the extent to which the trainee will understand the cause of his problem and his compliance to perform the corrective exercises.
With cooperation and conscious participation in the rehabilitation program, the athlete returns to sports/pitch as soon as possible. The exercises provide the necessary stability and mobility in the spinal and neighboring joints and therefore, the capacity to deal with the “static” and “dynamic” loads of his sporting activity.
Each athlete is given: a) a specific “warm-up” program, which should be performed before training or competition, in order to properly activate the trunk muscles and b) a comprehensive exercise routine, which will continue for some time, until the new motor patterns are automatically established.
CONCLUSION: The economy of motion and effective motor control is the “core” of athletic performance and injury prevention.