Learn how to prevent extreme sports injuries

LOS ANGELES Robert Hackey, 46, televises extreme sports for a living. That may be part of the reason he thought he could handle going down a big hill on roller blades.

"My feet went out from underneath me and I fell. I came down on my neck and hit my arm," said Hackey.

But three weeks later, he really felt the pain.

"I felt this sharp pain as if I was being electrocuted on the back of my neck and then all the way down my arm," said Hackey. "Then it went numb."

Hackey herniated a disc.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins says the popularity of extreme sports such as roller blading and skate boarding is catching on among the over 30 set.

It's rare that children get disc injuries, but as people age, Dr. Watkins says the spine gets less elastic.

"As we get older the discs get more dehydrated. They get stiffer," said Dr. Watkins. "More injuries are likely to occur thru the disc."

So Dr. Watkins says the best way adults can protect their back is to strengthen their abdominal muscles.

"That's the last thing I work on," said Hackey. "I actually work on core unstrength."

Dr. Watkins says people who sit all day develop poor posture. For them, he recommends a series of core building exercises.

"There's bridging when you're on all fours. Also, the dead bug exercise helps tighten your core muscles," said Dr. Watkins.

Hackey wore all the safety equipment but he didn't have the core strength. He needs surgery to repair his disc, but he's not giving up roller blading.

"As human beings we love to challenge, that makes us feel alive," said Hackey. "The question is are you challenging yourself beyond your skill level."

Be prepared, the next time you're on wheels.

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