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The American Journal of Sports Medicine

Year: 2010  |  Volume: 38  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 791 - 796

Relationship Between Low Back Pain and Competitive Sports Activities During Youth

M Hangai, K Kaneoka, Y Okubo, S Miyakawa, S Hinotsu, N Mukai, M Sakane and N. Ochiai



Low back pain is a significant problem not only for the adult, but also during youth. However, the relationship between low back pain during youth and the duration or types of competitive sports has not been clarified.


Low back pain during youth is associated with the duration and types of competitive sports.

Study Design

Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 4.


Study participants were 4667 new university students who, from 2004 to 2006, answered a questionnaire concerning low back pain and their participation in competitive sports. The participants were divided into a "no" group (NO), a middle group (MID), and a high group (HI) based on the duration of participation in competitive sports. The answers to the questionnaire were analyzed using the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test. Furthermore, we selected students who had participated in the same sport for 5 or more years and categorized the students according to the type of sport. Differences in low back pain among the groups were analyzed using logistic regression with the NO group as the reference group.


There were statistically significant linear associations in the NO, MID, and HI groups, with 50.0%, 61.8%, and 71.7%, respectively, of the students experiencing low back pain. Among the NO, MID, and HI groups, 4.4%, 5.7%, 9.6%, respectively, had experienced school absence due to low back pain; and 4.0%, 8.5%, and 14.6%, respectively had low back pain with associated lower extremity pain and numbness. All 8 sports groups that were analyzed had experienced low back pain significantly higher than the NO group, and the odds ratios differed by sport with the highest (3.8) for the volleyball group.


Excessive exposure to competitive sports activities during youth was associated with low back pain and symptoms in the lower extremities, with the severity varying with the sport. To reduce low back pain in youth, factors that may be causing low back pain, such as sport-specific postures and motions, need to be investigated.

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