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Physical loading and performance as predictors of back pain in healthy adults A 5-year prospective study

  • Urho M. Kujala
  • Simo Taimela
  • Tero Viljanen
  • Helena Jutila
  • Jukka T. Vitasalo
  • Tapio Videman
  • Michele C. Battié
Original Article

Abstract

We investigated muscle strength, aerobic power, and occupational and leisure-time physical loading as predictors of back pain in a 5-year follow-up study. A cohort of 456 adults aged 25, 35, 45 and 55 years, free of back pain, participated in measurements of anthropometric characteristics, aerobic power and muscle strength characteristics at baseline. The subjects' levels and types of physical activity and occupational physical loading were also determined. At 5 years after the baseline examinations 356 of these subjects (78.1 %) were reached by mail, and 262 of them (73.6%) properly completed and returned a questionnaire including a detailed back pain history for the 5 years following the baseline measurements. Of this number 56 subjects (21 %) who reported back pain ( > 30 on a scale from 0 to 100) and functional impairment during the 5-year follow-up composed the marked back pain group. Other subjects (n = 71, 27%) noting lesser symptoms were included in the mild back pain group; 135 subjects (52%) reported having had no back pain. The subjects with marked back pain were on average taller than the subjects without back pain, while no such difference was found in body mass. Heavy occupational musculoskeletal loading (P = 0.005) and high general occupational physical demands (P = 0.036) predicted future back pain. Leisuretime physical activity, aerobic power or muscle strength characteristics were not predictive of future back pain.

Key words

Back pain Occupational loading Physical activity Aerobic power Muscle strength 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Urho M. Kujala
    • 1
  • Simo Taimela
    • 1
  • Tero Viljanen
    • 2
  • Helena Jutila
    • 2
  • Jukka T. Vitasalo
    • 3
  • Tapio Videman
    • 4
  • Michele C. Battié
    • 5
  1. 1.Unit for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Institute of BiomedicineUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Physical Fitness Research Unit of the Paavo Nurmi CentreTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Research Institute for Olympic SportsUniversity CampusJyväskyläFinland
  4. 4.Department of Health SciencesUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  5. 5.Department of Physical TherapyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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