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The prevalence, incidence and severity of low back pain among international-level rowers
  1. Craig Newlands1,
  2. Duncan Reid2,
  3. Priya Parmar2
  1. 1High Performance Sport NZ, Rowing NZ High Performance Centre, Cambridge, New Zealand
  2. 2Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Craig Newlands, Rowing NZ, PO Box 765, Cambridge, New Zealand, 3450; craig.newlands{at}hpsnz.org.nz

Abstract

Background/aims There is a paucity of prospective cohort studies investigating the incidence of low back pain (LBP) in rowing. We investigated (1) the prevalence and incidence of LBP among international-level rowers in New Zealand, (2) the relationship between training volume and LBP and (3) the effect of LBP on rowers’ ability to train and compete.

Methods This was a prospective cohort study of 76 New Zealand representative rowers, including 46 men (mean age 22, SD=4) and 30 women (mean age 21, SD=4). Data were collected using an online questionnaire repeated monthly for 12 months.

Results The prevalence of LBP ranged from 6% to 25% throughout the year. The incidence of episodes of LBP was 1.67 per 1000 exposure-hours. A total of 72 episodes of LBP were reported by 40 rowers (53%) during 12 months. Of these, 45% had an incidental effect on training. 29% minor, 18% moderate and 9% had a major effect as determined by the length of time the training was interrupted. There was a high correlation between new LBP and total training hours per month (r=0.83, p<0.01). A previous history of LBP was a risk factor in developing new LBP (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.22 to 3.48, p=0.01). Age was also a risk factor, with the likelihood of developing LBP increasing for every year (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.15, p=0.02).

Conclusions LBP is common among New Zealand representative rowers. There is a high correlation between training load and the development of LBP.

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