The Comparison of Lumbar Spine Strength, Endurance and Range of Motion in Athletes with and without Low Back Pain

Document Type: Research Paper



Low back injuries account for 10-15% of all athletic injuries. It is difficult to design an exercise program to prevent and rehabilitate low back injury without knowing the differences in the kinematics and spinal loads in the sports techniques and the physical characteristics associated with low back pain (LBP). The aim of this study was to compare strength, endurance and range of motion of lumbar spine in athletes with and without LBP. 15 male athletes (mean age 21.35+3.7 yr, height 177+8.44 cm and weight 72.8+6.3 kg) without any history of LBP were matched by age and handicap to 15 male athletes (mean age 21.8+2.34 yr, height 173.6+6.38 cm and weight 70.65+8.18 kg) with a history of non-specific LBP. The subjects voluntarily participated in this study. An Oswestry and Quebec questionnaire was used to determine handicap and severity of low back pain. A spinal mouse device was used to determine lumbar range of motion, and Nicholas manual muscle tester (MMT) was used to assess muscular strength of lumbar muscles, and Ito endurance tests was used to measure lumbar muscular endurance. The LBP athletes significantly demonstrated less lumbar extension muscle endurance (P=0.016) and less lumbar extension range of motion (P=0.05). No significant differences were found in lumbar flexor endurance, lumbar flexors and extensors muscular strength and lumbar flexion range of motion (P>0.05). Although differences found in this study cannot be determined as causes or results of low back injuries in athletes, clinicians may be able to design a more appropriate exercise program for athletes to prevent or rehabilitate low back injury based on these findings.