Skating and backache: What prevention?

Sooner or later, every skater is exposed to backache during their career: How to prevent it? We have collected the opinions of elite skaters…

Backache: a skater’s classic

Dorso-lumbar musclesYou are a skater and you feel like teasing the stop-watch? You lean forward to be more aerodynamic and… to copy skaters on pictures. After a few minutes, your back starts burning. You cannot hold the position that makes you look like a speed skater. Let’s try to explain why…

Warming up is essential

At first, you have to warm up before doing a skating session. It is the best way to keep your back’s strength and flexibility. You should bring special attention to your core and back muscles, which constitute a natural corset for the spinal column.

No matter the origin of your backache, the muscles next to the painful area often contract. It is a protection reflex. That contraction itself can bring pain, as the posture muscles choke for want of blood irrigation.

Recent studies

Recent studies tend to prove that muscle imbalance may be a cause of pain. Wrongly and for years, spine flexors were exclusively mentioned for people suffering from lower back ache, particularly with the psoas muscle, the abs or the loins, and the intertransverse muscles which seem to work in the lateral flexing of the spine.

The modern muscle investigation methods (scanner, MRI, ultrasound, EMG) have already proved that most lower back aches are due to a dysfunction of the spinal extensors, with a real muscle atrophy confirmed by ultrasound and MRI. Amongst the spinal muscles, it would seem that the one to blame is the thoracolumbar fascia.

Pascal Briand’s advice on backache (Speed Skating World Champion and technical manager at the French Federation of Roller Sports).

For Pascal Briand, respecting the shape and natural position of your body is important. By dint of modifying too much your position, you use a lot of energy for a gain of efficiency that is not always proven or significant.

However, he advises to always make sure that you have an aerodynamic position. Your pelvis should be well fixed and your core muscles active in order to keep a good skating stance.

Jean-Stéphane Sierra’s comments

For Jean-Stéphane Sierra, the lumbar muscles undergo the most stress and are the most painful at the resuming of training. Skating on a regular basis is going to reinforce your back progressively. Thus he advises to skate for kilometers at first, for your muscles to get used to the skating stance.

What is the solution to reduce skating backache?

What if we started with training and reinforcing those muscles?

The importance of core workout

Drills for static and/or on unstable plane core workout are close to skating practice.

Renforcement musculaire


Stretching drills, besides training sessions, and taking heed of your pain, will enable the muscles to get used to work with reduced blood outflow then to pump back the blood influx.

Drills 1 & 2: Hamstring muscles

Etirement des ischios jambiers Etirement des ischios jambiers
Drill 3: Pelvitrochanterian muscles Drill 4: Iliopsoas muscle
Etirements des muscles fessiers Etirement des quadriceps

Pascal Briand’s comments on video (French)

Jean-Stéphane Sierra’s comments on video (French)


Arokoski JP, Valta T, Airaksinen O, Kankaanpãã M.?”Back and abdominal muscle fonction during stabilization exercises.” ?Arch Phys?Med Rehabil 2001 ; 82 (8) : 1089-98.

Norris CM.?”An exercise programme to enhance lumbar stabilisation.”?Ortho Div Rev 1997 ; 19-24.

O’Sullivan PB, Phyty GD, Twomey LT, Allison GT.?Evaluation of specific stabilizing exercise in the treatment of chronic low back pain with radiologic diagnosis

Useful links

Impact of muscle stretching on health and sports practice
Stretching with Ghizlane Samir

By Thierry Feutrier
Translation: Chloé Seyres
Photos: all rights reserved


Alexandre Chartier


Fondateur et webmaster de depuis 2003. Alexandre est un passionné de roller en général et sous tous ses aspects : histoire, économie, sociologie, évolution technologique... Aspirine ou café recommandée si vous abordez un de ces sujets !

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