Avoid Bleacher Back this Football Season

Fifty Yard Line with Bleachers

As we reach the last weeks of summer there’s an excitement in the air that can only come from the start of pre-season football, and the expectations of a new season. Along with picking our fantasy teams and filling up on our favorite snacks as we meet up with friends to tailgate, nothing beats the energy and feeling of being in the stadium and seeing our favorite college or NFL team take the field.

However, the feeling can only last so long before your lower back and backside start to complain over the poor stadium seating. Packing in close to 100,000 people, it seems that comfort was the last consideration in stadium design. Given the multitude of body types that people have, maintaining proper posture and body alignment while sitting on a pre-molded all weather plastic seat for upwards of 3 hours is a huge challenge. This can lead to low back pain, stiffness, or even decreased sensation. However, there are a number of things you can do to help alleviate the pain and soreness that comes from sitting for prolonged periods during a game:

  • One of the easiest is to bring a small cushion or pillow to sit on. This elevates the position of your hips, placing them above the level of the knees and helping to prevent a rounding out of the lumbar spine or low back. Another option is to place a small pillow behind the small of your back, which will also help to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
  • Another is to take a page from Major League Baseball and stretch, or do the wave with others around you as you cheer on your team. Periodically standing up and changing positions helps to decrease the stresses associated with prolonged static positioning.
  • The last and overall best advice is to maintain a regular workout routine that incorporates not only regular stretching but overall core strengthening. A strong core provides internal back support and better awareness of your body’s natural positioning. This can be done with any number of core strengthening programs from Pilates and/or yoga to consulting with a physical therapist to construct an individualized plan that you can safely follow.

With these back healthy pointers in hand, break out your favorite team apparel and colors and get ready to enjoy another exciting football season. There’s nothing quite like it, especially when you’re sitting at the stadium.

Michael Martell is a Physical Therapy Assistant and Advanced Clinician in the Acute Care Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, as well as the liaison for the HSS Spine Care Institute. He is also an avid football fan, and looks forward to rooting for the Chicago Bears and the Naval Academy football team.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


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