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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2005 December;45(4):547-52


language: English

Self-reported health, physical activity and prevalence of complaints in elite cross-country skiers and matched controls

Alricsson M. 1, 2, Werner S. 1, 3, 4

1 Section of Sports Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden 2 Department of Health Sciences Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden 3 Division of Physiotherapy, Department Neurotec Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden 4 Capio Artro Clinic, S:t Görans Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden


Aim. The purpose of this study was to compare physical health, physical activity and location for possible symptoms in high school students with cross-country skiers of the same age from ski high schools. Another aim was to study back pain with regards to influence on skiing.
Methods. The subjects studied were: 92% (n=120) of all Swedish cross-country skiers at ski high schools and 68% (n=993) of regular high school students from the North part of Sweden answered a reliable questionnaire (r=1) with regards to health, physical activity and location of possible symptoms/injuries during the last 3 months. Furthermore, the skiers answered questions on possible ski related back pain.
Results. All skiers were active also in other sports compared with 26% of the controls and at considerably higher levels of physical effort than the controls; 92% of the skiers and 76% of the controls described themselves as healthy, meaning “very good” or “good” (P=0.0001); 55% of the skiers and 64% of the controls reported recent symptoms (P=0.06); 47% of the skiers reported previous or present complaints of back pain, mainly low back pain, which could be relieved by changing body position from a flexed to a more extended one while skiing, and 77% reported their back pain to disappear during rest.
Conclusion. These results show the need for encouraging regular high school students to participate in sport. It also shows the importance of introducing preventative strategies regarding back pain to long-distance cross-country skiers, who are exposed to a prolonged flexed position of their back.

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