Injuries are a fact of life for athletes. Unfortunately, many of those athletes make their injuries worse by failing to take care of themselves after they see the doctor. That sort of negligence can turn a minor injury into a serious one, especially in the case of spinal injuries. Athletes that want to get back on their feet quickly and avoid lasting harm need to be careful after a sports injury. Fortunately, that’s a relatively easy thing to do for anyone who can follow a few simple tips.

Get Help

The first and most important rule is to seek medical help after any injury. It’s easy to mistake a major injury for a minor one, especially when adrenaline is helping to handle the pain. Waiting increases the odds of the injury getting worse, so never hesitate to seek out a doctor as soon as possible. When it comes to your spine, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Train Carefully

Many people make the mistake of overexerting themselves after an injury. It’s usually fine to keep training, but you should focus on arms, legs, and other areas that are minimally impacted by the injury. When in doubt, ask a doctor that specializes in sports medicine for advice to come up with a program that will keep you in shape without hurting your back/

Avoid Sudden Changes

Another common mistake is to immediately switch back to an intense workout after the recovery period ends. The human body isn’t built for that kind of sudden change, so it can aggravate old injuries. Instead, gradually increase your workout over time until you can safely go back to your old workout program.

Maintain Good Posture

Daily life exposes the spine to a great deal of physical stress, and that stress can slow the healing process. Good posture will minimize the problem, but maintaining it will take effort for most people. In general, you should try to keep your back as straight as possible, avoid twisting your spine, and try to keep your weight distributed evenly between both hips. It will take some thought at first, but it will eventually turn into a healthy habit.

Avoid Lifting

Try not to lift heavy objects while you heal. Even things that seem relatively light can cause problems for an injured back, so always err on the side of caution. When in doubt, ask a friend to help you with the lifting. If that isn’t possible, try to bend at the knees and keep your back straight instead of lifting with your back.

Travel with Care

Sitting for a long period of time can hurt your spine. Unfortunately, traveling in a car, bus, or plane involves an excessive amount of sitting with few opportunities to stop and stretch. Try to travel as little as possible in the weeks following a spine injury. If you must travel be sure to schedule breaks so you can stop and stretch.