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Rivista di Medicina, Traumatologia e Psicologia dello Sport

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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2009 September;49(3):297-300

lingua: Inglese

Prevalence of low back pain in former rhythmic gymnasts

Piazza M. 1, Di Cagno A. 2, Cupisti A. 3, Panicucci E. 4, Santoro G. 3

1 Department. of Anatomy, Histology and Forensic Medicine-Motor Sciences University of Florence, Florence, Italy;
2 Institute of Motor Sciences, University of Rome, Rome, Italy;
3 Department of Internal Medicine-Motor Sciences, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy;
4 Department of Experimental Pathology, Medical Bio-Technology and Epidemiology,, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy


AIM: It is still debated as to whether rhythmic gymnastics is a discipline at risk of low back pain, because the concern for the extreme and repetitive hyperextension of the column may be counteracted by protective factors which are distinctive of rhythmic gymnasts, namely: leanness, lumbar flexibility and muscle strength. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of low back pain in a cohort of former elite-level rhythmic gymnasts of the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team.
METHODS The Study Group included 60 adult females who were former rhythmic gymnasts of the Italian National Team. The Control Group included 60 adult females comparable for age, who were never involved in high level sport competitions. A standardized questionnaire was used to evaluate low back-pain symptoms.
RESULTS: Low back pain complaints were reported by 22 former rhythmic gymnasts and by 28 controls (36.6% vs. 46.6%, p: n.s.); in the ex-gymnasts the age of onset of pain was earlier than in controls. The former rhythmic gymnasts complaining low back pain reported a higher prevalence of symptoms also during the time of competitions, and retired earlier than those without pain.
CONCLUSIONS. Former elite rhythmic gymnasts reported a prevalence of low back-pain similar to sex and age matched general population. However, the rhythmic gymnasts who complained back pain during the sport activity are at risk of an early onset of symptoms after the retire from competitions. This study suggests that rhythmic gymnastics is not associated with increased risk of low back pain in the adult age.

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