Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 2540–2547 | Cite as

Low back pain in female elite football and handball players compared with an active control group

  • Paula TunåsEmail author
  • Agnethe Nilstad
  • Grethe Myklebust
Sports Medicine



The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to compare the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) among female elite football and handball players to a matched non-professional active control group.


The participants were requested to answer a questionnaire based on standardized Nordic questionnaires for musculoskeletal symptoms to assess the prevalence of LBP. Included participants were elite female football (n = 277) and handball players (n = 190), and a randomly selected control group from the Norwegian population (n = 167).


Fifty-seven percentage of the football players, 59 % of the handball players and 60 % of the control group had experienced LBP the previous year. There were no significant group differences in the prevalence of LBP ever (p = 0.62), the previous year (p = 0.85) or the previous 7 days (p = 0.63). For both sports, there was a significant increase in prevalence of LBP from the resting period to the competitive periods of the season (p ≤ 0.001). Seventy percent of the goalkeepers in both football and handball had experienced LBP the previous year.


There were no difference in LBP among female elite football and handball players compared with the control group. However, female elite athletes in football and handball reported a high prevalence of LBP compared to previous studies. The variations in LBP and playing positions indicate that specific field positions, in football and handball, is a risk factor for developing LBP.

Level of evidence



Low back pain Prevalence Female Elite athletes Football Handball 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Tunås
    • 1
    Email author
  • Agnethe Nilstad
    • 1
  • Grethe Myklebust
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research CentreNorwegian School of Sports SciencesOsloNorway

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