What are the Causes of a Strained Back?

Sarah Sullins

Most often, a strained back is caused when a person suddenly twists, falls, or receives a blow that knocks a joint out of place. These injuries can also occur during sports activities, because of obesity, and due to improper lifting or dragging of objects. Certain individuals, like those who smoke and those who are overweight, are more likely to experience back sprains.

The muscles of the back.
The muscles of the back.

Ligaments are bands that connect the bones in the body to certain joints, and tendons connect muscles to bones. When these become stretched or torn, the result is a strained back. These strains are in some ways very similar to an ankle sprain, and are generally just as painful. It is typical though, for a person to be able to continue to walk and get around even with a strained back.

A strained back is most often due to an injury.
A strained back is most often due to an injury.

Sudden movements that stretch and pull the ligaments in the back can result in these kinds of strains. Generally, these movements occur when a person is trying to lift something, reach for something, or bend down to get an item. Many times these injuries occur in the workplace, especially when good lifting techniques are not taught to workers.

Racquetball can put strain on the back muscles.
Racquetball can put strain on the back muscles.

Sports that require exaggerated spinal movement, like tennis and racquetball, can often put a lot of pressure on the ligaments and muscles in the back. A full contact sport, like football, may also result in a person suffering from a back sprain because of the blows to the body that the players receive. People who do not properly stretch and warm-up before playing sports are more likely to experience this type of injury than those who take the time to flex their muscles and ligaments before exercising.

Football players can easily strain their backs when tackled by others.
Football players can easily strain their backs when tackled by others.

Falling is a very common reason for a strained back. Some falls can be prevented by making sure that the shoes a person is wearing fit correctly and are tied. Keeping clutter out of walkways and off of stairs can also help to prevent strained backs caused by falling.

Those more at risk for this kind of back injury include people who smoke, are obese, have poor posture, do not eat right, and those who do not exercise. Quitting smoking can help increase the amount of oxygen that is able to get to the muscles, which can help make them healthier. Eating right and losing weight can reduce the amount of pressure that is placed on the ligaments and muscles in the back. Sitting up correctly and standing up straight can also reduce pressure placed on the back, and as a result, reduce the risk of a strained back.

Improper lifting may cause a strained back.
Improper lifting may cause a strained back.

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