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Anne Asher

Spine Injuries in Competitive Youth Athletes

By February 25, 2013

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Young competitive athletes are at risk for an overuse injury of the spine.
Photo: Mike Rosenberry

If you have a competitive athlete in your family, you may want to be on the lookout for the effects of repetitive spinal movements.

A 2003 New Zealand study published in Clinical Biomechanics found that rowers, who tend toward constant spinal flexion developed fatigue in key back muscles known as the erector spinae. The erector spinae - also called the paraspinal muscles - are responsible for countering spinal flexion, and holding you upright. As you can imagine, tired paraspinal muscles can lead to excessive flexion in the low back.


Another injury related to repetitive motion is spondylosis. Spondylosis can occur in young athletes who participate in gymnastics, soccer, figure skating and football, and it can also occur in obese adults. Regardless of who it affects, spondylosis can lead to a more difficult injury called spondylolisthesis.

Related Spondylosis in Young Athletes


Caldwell JS, McNair PJ, Williams M. The effects of repetitive motion on lumbar flexion and erector spinae muscle activity in rowers. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2003 Oct;18(8):704-11.

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