Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center

Main content of the page

Information about a piece of news titled Low back pain in female elite football- and handball players

Low back pain in female elite football- and handball players


A newly published study from Norwegian elite sports in Knee Surgery Sports Traumatology Artroscopi revealed the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) among  female top level handball and football players.


No difference in prevalence between elite athletes and control group


- We found no difference in LBP among female elite football- and handball players compared with the control group, says the main author Paula Tunås (picture).


Included participants were elite female football (n=277) and handball players (n=190), and a randomly selected control group from the Norwegian population (n=167).


The participants were requested to answer a questionnaire based on standardized Nordic questionnaires for musculoskeletal symptoms to assess the prevalence of LBP.


High prevalence of low back pain

Fifty-seven percent of the football players, 59% of the handball players and 60% of the control group had experienced LBP the previous year. There were no significant group-differences in the prevalence of LBP ever, the previous year, or the previous 7 days.



Higher prevalence during competition period

For both sports, there was a significant increase in prevalence of LBP from the resting period to the competitive periods of the season. As much as 70% of the goalkeepers in both football and handball had experienced LBP the previous year. Both the handball and the football players experienced most LBP in shooting and landing situations.


The handball and football players received more medical assistance and treatment than the control group. A possible explanation might be that the athletes have more easily access to medical support through their clubs which will give them quick medical assistance when needed.


Prevention strategies need to reduce risk

The present findings indicate a need for the implementation of preventive measures to reduce the prevalence of LBP among female elite handball and football players.


Specific core exercises and stretching of hip and gluteal musculature might be relevant measures.


Paula was supervised by Grethe Myklebust and Agnethe Nilstad. This data collection was part of the on-going ACL-risk factor project among Norwegian femlae eliteteam sport athletes.


Download the paper in KSSTA (pdf).