Examining the Presence of Back Pain in Competitive Athletes: A Focus on Stress and Recovery

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Explanatory approaches for back pain (BP) in athletes focus on biomechanical factors while neglecting psychological perspectives. Psychological factors have gained importance in the prediction of injuries in athletes and BP in the general population, with stress and recovery emerging as central risk factors. However, scarce evidence exists regarding the role of these aspects for the prevalent burden of BP. Objective: To investigate the association between stress and recovery parameters and the presence of BP. Design: Cross-sectional design. Setting: The questionnaires were distributed after the training sessions. Participants: A total of 345 competitive athletes (mean age = 18.31 y [SD = 5.40]) were investigated. The classification of the athletes’ competitive status was based on performance level. Interventions: Data were collected using questionnaires for the assessment of stress, recovery, and BP. Main Outcome Measures: The authors performed a multiple logistic regression to obtain odds ratios for stress and recovery parameters with regard to the outcome variable BP status. Results: For stress, the dimension “overall stress” (odds ratio = 1.83; 95% confidence interval, 1.30–2.59; P = .001) and the scale “physical complaints” (odds ratio = 1.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.25–2.25; P = .001) of the general version of the Recovery-Stress Questionnaire resulted to be significantly associated with BP. None of the recovery-related scales displayed a statistically significant relationship with BP. Conclusion: The outcomes of this study imply a modest association between stress and the presence of BP in competitive athletes. Practitioners may take these findings into account regarding the conception of training and for monitoring purposes.

Heidari and Kellmann are with the Unit of Sport Psychology, Faculty of Sport Science, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany. Belz and Kleinert are with the Department of Health & Social Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany. Hasenbring and Levenig are with the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany. Kellmann is also with the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

Heidari (jahan.heidari@rub.de) is corresponding author.
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