Back Pain for Athletes… and Workers
Did you know? Back pain affects everyone!
3 Up to 9 in every 10 Olympic athletes experience LBP in their lifetime; at any 1 time, up to 2 in every 3 athletes might be experiencing LBP.
Low back pain (LBP) is common in the general and athletic population and is a leading cause of disability globally.
Most LBP episodes are short-lasting and self-limiting; however, persistent and recurrent pain is common and for some it becomes disabling, yielding substantial personal, community and economic impact.
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LBP was more common with high training volumes, especially when associated with workload spikes. This is supported by some studies that associate the influence of repetitive and heavy loading on the risk of LBP in support of dose response and temporality, although this association is not
consistent. It may be also explained by an imbalance in a work to recovery ratio that is associated with injury across different sports
which supports the risk associated with workload spikes. Technical issues in many sports were linked to causation but no studies had appropriate methodology to confirm as a risk factor.
A focus should be on education and load management and to improve the paucity of research into prevention programmes. Sports associated with high biomechanical loading of the spine should examine strategies to improve spine load tolerance in these athletes and to modify biomechanics appropriately to minimise risk of LBP.
LBP is prevalent in athletes, with prevalence similar or higher than the general population, and with a long recovery trajectory for some. This indicates that while exercise is generally protective for LBP, it may increase risk at higher volumes.
► Risk factors for LBP in sport include history, high volume of
training and competition with poor load management and
years of exposure to sport.
► Current screening programs presently are insufficient to
identify those at risk.
► Future research in athlete LBP should provide a specific
sport appropriate definition with a temporal component.
Survey tools should be developed and validated in an athlete