This article is for all of my punters and kickers out there. I kicked and punted in college (Harding University, D2) and there wasn’t really any information out there in terms of injury prevention.
More often than not, lower back pain from punting and/or kicking is related to overuse. If you are anything like I was, I would be out on the field getting reps in every single day, even on the weekends, often not giving my body any time to rest.
That’s a mistake.
Now that i’m a physical therapist and ex-punter, i’ve got some tips for you to improve your back pain and prevent it from coming back.
Why Does Your Lower Back Hurt After Kicking?
- You didn’t warm up well enough. Even though you’d think that you only need to warm your legs up for kicking, warming up your lower back is also important as you are using this musculature to slow down the leg as you follow through.
- You’re practicing too much. I see this quite often with kickers. They start practicing too much and don’t give themselves enough rest (like many other athletes), and then you start to develop pain, whether it be low back pain, ankle pain, knee pain, or something else.
- Too much intensity too soon. You might have gone all out and really tried to crush the ball without warming up, or, you tried doing this prior to the season and you might have been out of shape.
What to do about lower back pain after kicking?
The good news is that there are many things that can be done to prevent this from happening and to improve your symptoms if it’s already happened. Here are a couple of things you can do to prevent it.
- Warm-up for 5-10 minutes.
- Bodyweight squats x 20 reps
- Lunges x 20 reps each side
- Single leg calf raises
- Single leg Romanian deadlift x 10 reps each side
- High knee sprints @ 75% x 5
- High knee sprints @ 90% x 5
- Forward/backward leg swings x 10 each side
- 50% power, punts/kicks x 10
- Reduce how many days you are practicing by 50%. You can still lift weights, and you should, as long as it doesn’t make it worse, while giving yourself a week or so to rest from the higher volume of kicking you were doing.
If the reduced volume of kicking doesn’t improve your symptoms after one week, give it one more week, and if it’s still not improved, you can read this article that I wrote that goes into more depth about lower back pain and how to improve it.
One other tactic that you should be using that will not only prevent how often you experience low back pain, but, will also make you a better kicker, is getting into the gym and working on improving your overall back and leg strength.
A couple of great exercises for this are deadlifts, bent over rows, Romanian deadlifts, t bar rows, and using the GHD, just to name a few. If you don’t have access to a GHD you can also use a back hyperextension machine.
More often than not, lower back pain improves over the course of 2-6 weeks on it’s own, however, if you notice this is a recurring issue, follow the steps above and this should put you on the right track.
I’m always interested in improving my articles, so please write a comment below if there is anything that I missed or didn’t answer. Thanks!