IG88E

Back pain during/after tournaments - tips?

54 posts in this topic

Thanks too all, very good advices. Will definetively check my shoes and the stretching and moving things.

Interesting to see that I am not the only one having such problems

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19 hours ago, TasteTheRainbow said:

Ibuprofen before the tourney starts. 800mg every 8 hours. Don't take Tylenol, it reduces how much you'll enjoy yourself.

 

Hydrate.

Wait what?!

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Don't go cheap on shoes, they are the most important thing you can put on every day since how you walk will affect your entire body. Get a good pair of shoes and also if you are leaning over the table a lot do the opposite and lean backwards. To do this keep your feet even with your shoulders as you stand, arms on your hips and lean back, keeping your head level. Hold for 10-30 seconds, whatever is comfortable for you and repeat it a couple times.

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An important piece of information is where exactly this back pain is and a description of the pain that it causes. Not all back pain is equal as lower back pain may simply be a case of tight hamstrings being compensated for by compression of your lower torso or a herniated disc causing constant impingement of a nerve. So let's go through the classic OPQRST questionnaire.

O: When is the onset of the pain? How long into the matches does it take to appear on average?

P: What provokes the pain? Are there any particular movements that makes it worse? What makes it better?

Q: What is the quality of the pain? If you had to describe it in a sentence, what would it be?

R: Does the pain radiate to different parts of your body? Does it go down your leg or travel in any other way?

S: How severe is it? On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being just peachy and 10 being somebody ripping your leg out of the socket and beating you with it, where are you at?

T: Does the pain get better with time, worse, or does it stay the same?

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I love when us geeks need to develop a multi-step protocol to be able to boardgame for an extended period of time. Here's mine:

The day before, a professional deep-tissue massage at 4:30pm
One hour of swimming in a warm salt-treated pool (standard chlorine-only will dry the sky a bit)
Dinner of 25oz salmon, lemon zested, and 12oz of dried kale
Drink 4 cups of water between swimming and sleep
Go to sleep no later than 9pm (drugging if necessary)
Sleep only on a medium to medium-firm pillowtop mattress or memory foam mattress
Sleep with a WonderPillow and only two sheets, 1000 thread count satin (each)
Sleep with the room at 62-64 degrees
Wake up three hours before the tourney starts
Drink two cups of lemon-water
Eat four raw eggs and 12oz dried kale
Do a 30 minute session of yoga (routine of Mountain, Downward Dog, Tabletop, Cow, Cat, Tabletop, Child's Pose, Cobra, and then adjust to taste)
Eat two more raw eggs
Dress in business-casual, cashmere clothing only (except for undergarments, which should be cotton or silk)
Put a bay leaf in each shoe for luck and moisture
Don't shower, as it will dry the skin and shock the muscles
Heated Car Seat pad set to highest setting on drive to tourney (assume an hour, drive in circles with heating pad if necessary)
Take one dosage of ibuprofen
Pray devoutly and publicly to the Chuch or Latter Day Saints God (whether Mormon or not)
Sacrifice two newts on a small concrete-based altar to the Catholic patron saint of back pain
Do ten toe touches and twenty three lunges across the tourney floor
Begin Round 1
(to be cont.)
 

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Posted (edited)

I've weight lifted for over a decade now, been up and down on weight, had some injuries, the best thing I've found to loosen up those muscles that are causing you this pain is hot yoga. It works like a ****. I would continue to focus on strengthening the muscles, but use hot yoga as your pre tournament stress release. Tell the instructor what problem areas you have and they will help you focus on that.

Edited by FrogTrigger
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Totally forgot about yoga! I started doing yoga after reading about it's benefits in shooters magazine. Yes you heard right, yoga is frequently used by military snipers to allow them to more comfortable stay in awkward positions for long periods of time without cramping or injury. Highly recommend a yoga routine everyday, not just before the activity at hand.

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Honestly? Exercise. A big factor into that kinds of soreness is simple overuse of muscle groups unused to that sort of use. You're basically forcing all those muscle groups to hold you in positions where your body isn't designed to carry weight naturally. As bipeds out body is distributed in a vertical manner to maximize skeletal efficiency. If you are bending over all the time, you've moved that center of gravity, and now your muscles are doing more of the work.

If they are used to doing more work, they won't hurt as bad.  Posture helps, too. I do a lot of detail work with converting models, and I notice that gives me back pain from hunching over (not helped by ten years destroying my back in the Marines).  Try to sit/stand straight up when you're not directly interacting with the board.

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Many people have said shoes, very good choice, in addition good socks to soften the shock.  Am 70 now have been gaming for 45 years, good foot support, shoes, socks, exercise, floor pad helps.  

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2 hours ago, flyboymb said:

An important piece of information is where exactly this back pain is and a description of the pain that it causes. Not all back pain is equal as lower back pain may simply be a case of tight hamstrings being compensated for by compression of your lower torso or a herniated disc causing constant impingement of a nerve. So let's go through the classic OPQRST questionnaire.

O: When is the onset of the pain? How long into the matches does it take to appear on average?

P: What provokes the pain? Are there any particular movements that makes it worse? What makes it better?

Q: What is the quality of the pain? If you had to describe it in a sentence, what would it be?

R: Does the pain radiate to different parts of your body? Does it go down your leg or travel in any other way?

S: How severe is it? On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being just peachy and 10 being somebody ripping your leg out of the socket and beating you with it, where are you at?

T: Does the pain get better with time, worse, or does it stay the same?

Thank you very much for your post. Indeed I think it has something to do with short harmstrings (or gluteus maximus and co-muscles). I have two spots of (dull) pain and I guess the posture affects several points on the spine (trying to counteract by reminding to stand and sit in a straight position). Movement ALWAYS makes it better or completely removes the symptoms. Pain radiates a bit into the neck area (or vice versa) and forward below the sternum/solar plexus. Severity around 3-4 (not soo bad I would say), but also a bit disturbing during breathing (fasciae?).

 

Thank you very much flyboymb!

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2 hours ago, FrogTrigger said:

I've weight lifted for over a decade now, been up and down on weight, had some injuries, the best thing I've found to loosen up those muscles that are causing you this pain is hot yoga. It works like a ****. I would continue to focus on strengthening the muscles, but use hot yoga as your pre tournament stress release. Tell the instructor what problem areas you have and they will help you focus on that.

Thank you for your answer. I know, should definetively starting it. Real Yoga (Ashtanga) or some milder forms such as Vinyasa? Or with "hot yoga" do you mean bikram yoga (the one you do at 40°C?)?

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2 hours ago, Gibbilo said:

Protip, lose the gut. will do wonders for back pain.

Thank you for your answer. I know it has to do with fasciae too. Definetively influences the digestion/vegetative nervous system. How do you lose the gut?

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1 hour ago, VaeVictis said:

Honestly? Exercise. A big factor into that kinds of soreness is simple overuse of muscle groups unused to that sort of use. You're basically forcing all those muscle groups to hold you in positions where your body isn't designed to carry weight naturally. As bipeds out body is distributed in a vertical manner to maximize skeletal efficiency. If you are bending over all the time, you've moved that center of gravity, and now your muscles are doing more of the work.

If they are used to doing more work, they won't hurt as bad.  Posture helps, too. I do a lot of detail work with converting models, and I notice that gives me back pain from hunching over (not helped by ten years destroying my back in the Marines).  Try to sit/stand straight up when you're not directly interacting with the board.

I exercise a lot (weight lifting for 4 years). But should possibly bring more variety into my movements, otherwise you even more disbalances. I have set my focus on training the lower back and back shoulders (and rhomboid muscles) (more pull than push exercises)

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Having been an Army medic for 12 years, I can tell you that there's 3 major sources of back pain: Muscle fatigue, nerve impingement, and tendinitis.

Muscle fatigue stems mostly from having to support your body upright for long periods of time especially while having to lean or similar movements that put extra load on your minor back muscles. Simple rest, stretching, and something like Tiger Balm can usually take care of this but after a certain point it just takes time for the fatigue to go away. This is what I think your issue is. Core exercises such as planks will help these smaller muscles to strengthen and stretching will help maintain flexibility so that they aren't required to activate to maintain posture as often.

Tendinitis occurs when you cause minor damage to the tendon that connects muscle to bone through either repeated use or sudden strains. You'd notice difficulty and pain in movement only while taking the load off the area would provide instantaneous relief. Given the rather low intensity activity that is table-top gaming (besides the odd table flip), I think this can be ruled out.

Finally there is nerve impingement. The evolution of upright posture is a recent thing and our spines still are primarily built to support us from the horizontal rather than the vertical. Fatigue, damage to the disc, or to the bone of the spine itself can result in pressure on one of the two nerves that branch out of either side of each gap in your spine. This usually results in things like electronic shocks traveling down limbs (i.e. sciatica), muscle spasms on one side of the body (impingement stimulating muscle contraction), or stuff like excruciating pain and loss of range of motion (your back 'locking up'). Not much that can be done for this outside of stretching and prescription strength stuff like muscle relaxers and narcotics unless you go the surgical route which may make things worse. Thankfully, your description doesn't really match any of this.

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35 minutes ago, flyboymb said:

Having been an Army medic for 12 years, I can tell you that there's 3 major sources of back pain: Muscle fatigue, nerve impingement, and tendinitis.

Muscle fatigue stems mostly from having to support your body upright for long periods of time especially while having to lean or similar movements that put extra load on your minor back muscles. Simple rest, stretching, and something like Tiger Balm can usually take care of this but after a certain point it just takes time for the fatigue to go away. This is what I think your issue is. Core exercises such as planks will help these smaller muscles to strengthen and stretching will help maintain flexibility so that they aren't required to activate to maintain posture as often.

Tendinitis occurs when you cause minor damage to the tendon that connects muscle to bone through either repeated use or sudden strains. You'd notice difficulty and pain in movement only while taking the load off the area would provide instantaneous relief. Given the rather low intensity activity that is table-top gaming (besides the odd table flip), I think this can be ruled out.

Finally there is nerve impingement. The evolution of upright posture is a recent thing and our spines still are primarily built to support us from the horizontal rather than the vertical. Fatigue, damage to the disc, or to the bone of the spine itself can result in pressure on one of the two nerves that branch out of either side of each gap in your spine. This usually results in things like electronic shocks traveling down limbs (i.e. sciatica), muscle spasms on one side of the body (impingement stimulating muscle contraction), or stuff like excruciating pain and loss of range of motion (your back 'locking up'). Not much that can be done for this outside of stretching and prescription strength stuff like muscle relaxers and narcotics unless you go the surgical route which may make things worse. Thankfully, your description doesn't really match any of this.

Thank you my friend for this kind reply. Sounds like at least I should make some planks and other core stabilizing exercises (I really could need a bit more core strength).

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7 hours ago, IG88E said:

Thank you for your answer. I know, should definetively starting it. Real Yoga (Ashtanga) or some milder forms such as Vinyasa? Or with "hot yoga" do you mean bikram yoga (the one you do at 40°C?)?

I don't know the fancy names, just that it was really hot, so the 40 degree celsius one. I just know that after a full week of weight lifting, if I do Hot Yoga on the Saturday I feel like a million bucks after, if I don't my muscles are much more likely to be fatigued the following week.

I would really focus on hyperextensions and upright rows for strengthening your lower back, then rear delt cable flys for your upper back. These are the two most common problem areas in my experience and the strongest exercises to focus them. Again, in my experience.

But like others have said, focusing on better posture at the tournament itself and sitting down more often will be the catalyst, however that is always easier said than done after 8 hours of deep mental thought. Maybe write yourself a note and keep it down by your build, when you go to take a shield off or put damage on you will be reminded to stand up straight, stretch, punch your opponent out or whatever. Might be a great time to release some of that built up stress/tension periodically.

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