Exercises For Preventing Back Injuries in Athletes

A strong back in any sport equates to the difference between winning and losing. Amateurs and professionals can be afflicted with a back injury from time to time. However, players that haven’t had back problems can take certain preventive measures by using “target” exercises to strengthen and stretch the back.

The most common risk factor for back injuries is a muscle imbalance. This is a musculo- skeletal condition in which some muscles become “weak”, and others “strong”, hence the imbalance. A study recently published in the journal Sportverletz Sportschaden, found that because the biomechanics involved in playing tennis can create neuromuscular imbalances, a back exercise program will help to even out those imbalances significantly. Muscle imbalances can be found in a variety of sports, from golf to swimming. Tai Chi, along with yoga, and certain weight-training workouts are good for this purpose.

Some examples of exercises are:

  • Side-Bridge – Lie on a mat with legs straight out. Turn sideways holding the body up with one bent arm parallel to the floor. Keep your abs tight until 30-60 seconds. A great sports specific exercise that targets the trunk and hip muscles well.
  • Single-leg Bridging – On the ground, lay on back with one foot on a chair, (use an exercise ball for a challenge). Attempting to align the shoulders, trunk, hip, knee, and heel, raise the body up off the floor so that weight is resting solely on the heel of the raised foot and the shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds or so, then repeat. After a couple of these, switch feet and start over.

Also, be sure to take a look at the following SportsMD back exercise video.

Trunk Strength 1, Lower Back 

These are only a few of the exercises available to help strengthen and condition an athletes back. Other activities or workouts for increasing strength and balance are also recommended. Preparing the body and being safe while playing is a major part of peak performance.


  • Neuromuscular Imbalances of The Lower Back in Tennis Players-The Effects of a Back Exercise Program, Renkawitz, T., Boluki, D., Linhardt, O., Grifka, J., Sportverletz Sportschaden, Volume: 21(1), March 2007, 23-28.

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