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Information about project titled 'Prevalence of low back pain among cross-country skiers, rowers, orienteerers and sedentary controls - A cross-sectional study'

Prevalence of low back pain among cross-country skiers, rowers, orienteerers and sedentary controls - A cross-sectional study

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Project status: Published
Project manager: Roald Bahr
Coworker(s): Bjørn Fossan, Torger Hansen, Stig Ove Andersen, Ingar Holme, Sverre Løken


Previous studies indicate that there is a high prevalence of low back pain in some sports, e.g. rowing and gymnastics. Some of the best cross-country skiers on the Norwegian national team have recently undergone surgery because of intervertebral disc injury. For that reason it has been speculated that the prevalence of low back pain may be very high among cross-country skiers even to the extent where it could be called an occupational disease. Whether this is the case, is not known, although the only available study from cross-country skiing has shown that the low back is the most frequently injured body region among young elite skiers among men and women (Eriksson 1996).

Cross-country skiers use different techniques and it has been suggested that the loads imposed by both double-poling and skating may cause low back pain. Thus, the purpose of this investigation is to compare the prevalence of low back pain between elite athletes from cross-country skiing, orienteering, and rowing, as well as a control group of non-athletes. The reason for choosing athletes from these sports to compare with is that they are expected to have a comparable training volume, and that their sports do (rowing) and do not (orienteering) subject the athletes to specific low back loading.


Methods: A cross-sectional study of the prevalence of low back pain will be conducted among participants aged 18 years or older in the Norwegian championships in cross-country skiing (winter 2000), rowing (summer 2000) and orienteering (fall 2000). We expect to contact about 150 athletes of each gender in both sports. The respective sports federations will be contacted to ensure that all participants are informed of the purposes and procedures of the investigation upon entry in the championships.

In addition, athletes who have been part of teams participating in the championships since Jan. 1, 2000, but failed to participate due to injury, illness or other reasons will be identified by their coaches and contacted for participation. These athletes, as well as an age- and sex-matched control group not participating in competitive sports randomly chosen from the population register, will be contacted by mail. Written informed consent will be obtained from all participants, and they will also be asked permission to be contacted for a follow-up investigation 5-10 years from now.
The participants will be asked to complete a two-page questionnaire about demographics, training habits, and present and former low back problems and their relation to training. The questionnaire is based on Nordisk spørreskjema for kartlegging av muskel-skjelettplager - spørreskjema for korsrygg (Andersson et al, 1984) with some adaptations for the sports setting.