COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

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
24839041

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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