Back pain in the water polo athlete

“What happens underwater, stays underwater.”


Water Polo & Pain

Water polo is an incredible sport that requires a lot of strength, especially in the legs and core. The most common injuries in water polo involve the head, the knees and the shoulders.

Back pain is a common complaint I hear among the athletes that come into my clinic. If you play water polo and are struggling with back pain here are a few self help ideas.

Movement Patterns

For the water polo athlete, the hips play a major role to keep the body afloat. This hip rotation under water is called the eggbeater. The eggbeater requires a tremendous amount of hip rotation.

The trunk is also the powerhouse of the throw. The athlete needs to have a generous amount of mobility in the trunk/spine to extend and rotate back before throwing the ball forward.

The body is pretty amazing in how it adapts. One of the main movement patterns I assess is the athlete’s counter movement. Meaning, how well can he/she move in the opposite direction. If this is a right handed player, then the athlete should be adept at extension and rotation to the right, but how well can the body perform extension and rotation to the left, or flexion and rotation to the right -think left handed throw.

Functional resiliency

Whatever sport you perform, moving in all the ways makes your body much more resilient. If you move well in certain patterns, great keep doing it. If you have difficulty in certain movement patterns, great challenge it! This will build strength and mobility in multiple directions and a strong multidirectional athlete can out perform the rest.

Self Help

If you or your student athlete struggles with chronic lower back pain during water polo season,  click here to download a full list of exercises for self help.

Or watch this spinal rotation video to assess your own movement patterns. Challenge yourself in the directions that feel the most difficult for you as long as they do not increase pain.

Need a personalized assessment?  Contact our office to schedule today 




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