Low back pain in female elite football and handball players compared with an active control group

Paula Tunås, Agnethe Nilstad, Grethe Myklebust
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy: Official Journal of the ESSKA 2015, 23 (9): 2540-7

PURPOSE: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to compare the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) among female elite football and handball players to a matched non-professional active control group.

METHODS: The participants were requested to answer a questionnaire based on standardized Nordic questionnaires for musculoskeletal symptoms to assess the prevalence of LBP. Included participants were elite female football (n = 277) and handball players (n = 190), and a randomly selected control group from the Norwegian population (n = 167).

RESULTS: Fifty-seven percentage of the football players, 59 % of the handball players and 60 % of the control group had experienced LBP the previous year. There were no significant group differences in the prevalence of LBP ever (p = 0.62), the previous year (p = 0.85) or the previous 7 days (p = 0.63). For both sports, there was a significant increase in prevalence of LBP from the resting period to the competitive periods of the season (p ≤ 0.001). Seventy percent of the goalkeepers in both football and handball had experienced LBP the previous year.

CONCLUSION: There were no difference in LBP among female elite football and handball players compared with the control group. However, female elite athletes in football and handball reported a high prevalence of LBP compared to previous studies. The variations in LBP and playing positions indicate that specific field positions, in football and handball, is a risk factor for developing LBP.

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