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Emily’s Football Focus - Lower Back Pain in Footballers

Lower back pain (LBP) is an extremely common complaint in both athletes and in the general population. The prevalence of LBP in young athletes is 3-5 times higher than those of the same age that don’t compete in a sport and in adult footballers, 64% will likely experience LBP whilst competing! Most of the time, back pain in footballers is not a major cause for concern and will usually improve within a few weeks with modified activity and gradually returning to football.

What puts you at a higher risk of back pain as a footballer?

There are several risk factors for developing back pain as a footballer. To name a few:

  • Previous back pain

  • Decreased range of movement of the back

  • Tightness or asymmetry (unequal strength) of the hamstrings and hip muscles

  • Being overweight / high BMI

What can you do to prevent lower back pain as a footballer?

Research has shown that there is an increased risk of back injuries after a long break, such as returning to training for pre-season or after the winter break. This suggests that footballers may become deconditioned and therefore can’t handle the demands of returning straight back to full intensity training or matches. This highlights the importance of making sure that you are ready when you go back for pre-season and that you allow time to gradually get back into training to reduce the risk of injuries.

Two of the most important things for preventing LBP as a footballer are:

  • A good strength training routine - this includes exercises for, not just the back, but the whole lower limb 

  • A good back mobility routine - choosing exercises that take the back through a whole range of movement and incorporating some stretches for the lower limb and hips too

What to do as a footballer if you have back pain?

Activity modification is the first line of treatment, whereby you should avoid any aggravating activities until you are pain free - you may be able to continue playing football, just at a reduced volume, frequency or intensity whilst symptoms settle. There are various modalities that you can use such as ice, heat and other treatments such as sports massage.

Treatment should also address the potential factors that could have contributed to the development of back pain. A sports therapist is able to complete a whole-body assessment to identify these potential risk factors and create a bespoke plan for you. Once you are able to complete activities pain free and have obtained normal strength, a gradual return to full football can start.

Here at SV Sports Therapy, we can help footballers and athletes to deal with back pain by assessing their individual needs, using a variety of treatment methods and providing bespoke rehabilitation and management plans to get them safely back onto the pitch pain-free.

Give us a call to book in with Emily on 0203 4944343 or email or you can also book online here. We would love to serve you!


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