Degenerative Lumbar Disc Disease in the Mature Athlete Follow-up

Updated: Mar 13, 2017
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Return to Play

Criteria for return to play require the mature athlete to have an absence of signs or symptoms of the original injury (especially if there were radicular symptoms), full ROM, strength and flexibility to within normal limits, and good sport-specific mechanics. Mature athletes must be aware of their own limitations; this awareness is particularly important for the individual gradually returning to a competitive level of activity after injury.



Patient education is an important factor in the prevention of low back injury in the mature athlete. Minimizing forces on the spine through proper mechanics in specific sporting activities is important. Additionally, strengthening the dynamic stabilizers of the spine to counteract the significant forces exerted on the spine during certain athletic activities also is important.

Maintaining proper flexibility also is believed to play a significant role in the prevention of back injury in athletes of all ages. Additionally, improvement in aerobic fitness can increase blood flow and oxygenation to all tissues, including the muscles, bones, and ligaments of the spine, and it would be a reasonable addition to any rehabilitation and prevention program. Seasonal athletes should be encouraged to cross-train year round or at least undergo preconditioning before participating in their particular sport.