Back Injury: Is Everything Back When the Pain is Gone?Do athletes who have injured their backs run slower after the back is healed? These researchers set out to answer this question. They thought it might show if there are leftover problems even when the back pain is gone.
A timed 20-meter (66 feet) shuttle run was conducted. This short distance stressed the back and legs but did not cause cardiovascular fatigue, which could affect the results. Twenty-seven athletes with resolved back pain were compared to athletes who had never had back pain. The athletes who had back pain were in fact slower.
This is important information because many athletes suffer back injury or pain. They usually return to their sport when the symptoms are gone. Unknown changes may be affecting their performance. Other studies have shown that injuries in one part of the body can result in other injuries. For example, a knee or hip injury can lead to a future back problem. This phenomenon appears to be especially true for women.
Changes in function and performance may be present in athletes long after their injury has healed. This has been shown in cases of athletes with low back pain. For example, when the pain is gone and the athlete returns to his or her sport, running time is slower. According to researchers, this confirms the idea that the function of the hips, legs, and feet is affected by a previous back problem.
More research is being done to see if the 20-meter shuttle run can be used as a screening tool. Identifying athletes with residual changes from a previous injury could be an important part of training.
Scott F. Nadler, DO, et al. Functional Deficits in Athletes With a History of Low Back Pain: A Pilot Study. In Archives of Physical Medicine. December 2002. Vol. 83. No. 12. Pp. 1753-1758.
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