What are the predictors for development of LBP in rowers?
This meta-analysis examines the incidence of low back pain in a rowing population, and assesses whether there are common predictors for the development of LBP. They reported a 12-month incidence of LBP in a rowing population to be up to 51% compared to 15% in the general population. The most common predictors for development of LBP when rowing were previous injury, training volume and a lack of pelvic rotation at either end of the rowing stroke.
Rowing generally involves high training volumes, particularly at the elite level, with training taking place on the water and in the gym. The cyclic nature of rowing produces repetative, high loads in certain parts of the body. Back pain is the most commonly reported injury in rowers.
The authors examined 11 studies to determine whether there are any common predictors for LBP development in rowing.
The authors reported a high 12-month incidence of low back pain in rowers compared to the general population (51% vs. 15%).
The most common predictors for the development of LBP were training volumes (sessions of longer than 30 minutes carried increased risk), and previous incidence of LBP.
A number of studies also highlighted the importance of pelvic rotation at either extreme of the stroke, to prevent excessive lumbar flexion and extension. Novice rowers were shown to use high degrees of lumbar flexion, with limited anterior pelvic rotation, when compared to elite rowers.
The knowledge that training volume and previous history of LBP can increase the risk of LBP when rowing can be useful for those choosing rowing as a recreational activity.
This study has also highlights the importance of good lumbopelvic, hamstring and hip flexor mobility in rowing to prevent excess force being translated through the lumbar spine.