Background Rally raid is a form of long distance off-road racing that takes place over several days. Injuries and spine disease related to the high speed and off-road profile of the track are common in these athletes.
Objective To examine the effect of a program of functional training implemented in the yearly preparation cycle on the risk of spine injury.
Design Prospective intervention study, without control group.
Setting Professional rally raid.
Patients (or Participants) 16 male professional truck drivers (177 (176–182) cm, 82.4 (75.4–85.6) kg, body mass index 25.4 (24.6–26.8) kg/m2, 32.5 (29.0–39.5) yrs), all high achievers with regular participation in rally raids.
Intervention An exercise program was prescribed from Oct 2014 to Dec 2015 which included six separate 3-week blocks of training (six days of training with 1 day off in each block).
Main Outcome Measurements Analysis of radiological parameters: the formation of new hernia or impairment of current state of disc protrusion, radicular symptoms, Modic changes, hernia types, subchondral sclerosis according to Grogan classification, Pfirrmann grade. Muscle endurance was also tested in the plank position.
Results An increase in muscle endurance was observed in all athletes (p>0.05). Compared to the 2013–2014 season, in 2015 no new hernias or radicular symptoms were registered. Disk protrusions also did not increase in 2015, compared to 2013/14.
Conclusion There was no deterioration in radiological changes and an improved trunk muscle endurance after the introduction of a functional training program, documenting the importance of functional training in motor sports.