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Life in Motion

Avoiding Bleacher Back: Tips for Sports Fans

Back, Neck & Spine

Whether you are a super fan of a professional sports team, or the number one fan of your child or grandchild, traveling to games and sitting through the sometimes long duration sporting events can be a challenge if you suffer from back pain. NEBH physical therapists offer the following advice for any fan with plans to cheer on their favorite team.

Getting to the Game
If your destination involves a long car ride, there are some precautions you can take to ensure you are feeling ready to cheer your favorite team on once you arrive.

  • Take breaks often – stop at rest stops and alternate drivers. This is also a good time to stretch and perform any of the exercises that normally keep your back in shape.
  • When sitting, use a small pillow behind the back for a time, then take it out, then sit on it for a time. This is a method of shifting your body to avoid getting stuck for the whole ride in the same position.
  • Do not drive if you have radiating pain and weakness or dysfunction in your driving leg.

Managing Uncomfortable Seating
Bleachers are commonly the only seating option at many sporting events. Unfortunately, bleachers are not ideal for those who suffer from back pain because they do not provide any support for your back, which can lead to poor posture and increased back pain. If you have the option, avoid the hard bleachers and bring your own chair. If bleachers or uncomfortable stadium seating are your only options, consider bringing a small cushion, pillow, or blanket to sit on during the game. This will elevate the position of your hips, placing them above the level of the knees and can help to prevent a rounding out of the lumbar spine or low back.

During the Game
It’s easy to stay sedentary once you’ve found your seat, but prolonged periods of sitting can cause your back to become stiff. Between the action of the game, try getting up and walking around the field or gym. Have a hard time walking? Get moving and show your support for the team by standing up to cheer periodically throughout the game.

If you have any type of persistent pain, consult an orthopedic expert.

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