Objectives Low back pain is one of major health problems in rowing that can lead to significant training and competition absences but there is still a lack of data in which age group it actually starts to appear. We have therefore decided to study the incidence of low back pain in Slovenian rowers of different age groups and to find out potential age-dependent risk factors.
Methods 86 rowers who had been training and competing on regular basis participated in the study. 56 of them were men aged 11 to 28 and 30 of them were women aged 12 to 28. Each of them was asked to fill in a questionnaire based on Standardised Nordic questionnaire for musculo-skeletal symptoms assessment in working population (Bahr et al, 2004) adjusted to focus on workloads in rowing. Incidence rate of low back pain in different age groups (boys and girls, juniors B, juniors A, masters) was shown by the mean of frequency distribution. Hi-square test was used to evaluate the differences between gender and age groups and for correlations between low back pain and risk factors with categorical values and Pearson correlation coefficient was used to calculate the correlations between low back pain and risk factors with continuous values. P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results The incidence of low back pain increases until junior A category when it reaches 52.6% in one-year period. There is a significant difference in incidence between gender (see Figure 1) in each age group. There is also a significant difference between risk factors for low back pain in different age groups. Male gender was proved to be an important risk factor for low back pain in junior A group (p = 0.008). Hours of training per week and hours of training per day were also proved to be important risk factors in male and female juniors A (p = 0.037 and p = 0.008). Number of training hours on ergometer was on the other hand confirmed to be an important risk factor in boys and girls, (p = 0.001) and juniors B (p = 0.009). Change of rowing style is an important risk factor in juniors A (p = 0.050) and presence of skeletal muscle disorders was confirmed to be an important risk factor in the whole rowing population (p = 0.003), but especially in boys and girls (p = 0.012). Also positive family history for musculo-skeletal disorders was shown to be an important risk factor for low back pain in Slovenian rowing population (p = 0.045).
Conclusions The incidence of low back pain is very high in Slovenian rowers reaching one peak already in junior B group and maximum rate in masters in females and maximum rate in junior A group in males. There is a significant difference in incidence between males and females and there were different risk factors identified in different age groups.
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