Lecture| Volume 76, 105019, June 2020

Peak sagittal plane spine kinematics in female gymnasts with and without a history of low back pain

  • Ricky Pimentel
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

    North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

    Center for Gait and Movement Analysis, Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA
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  • Morgan N. Potter
    Department of Physical Therapy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
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  • James J. Carollo
    Center for Gait and Movement Analysis, Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA

    University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Aurora, CO, USA

    University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Orthopedics, Aurora, CO, USA
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  • David R. Howell
    University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Orthopedics, Aurora, CO, USA

    Children's Hospital Colorado, Sports Medicine Center, Aurora, CO, USA
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  • Emily A. Sweeney
    Corresponding author at: 13123 E. 16th Avenue, Box 060, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.
    University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Orthopedics, Aurora, CO, USA

    Children's Hospital Colorado, Sports Medicine Center, Aurora, CO, USA
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      • Gymnasts with and without back pain performed back walkovers and back handsprings.
      • Wearable sensors detected movement of the gymnasts' spines.
      • Gymnasts with back pain had similar spinal motion to those without back pain.



      Female gymnasts have a greater prevalence of back pain compared to other female athletes. There is little evidence that female artistic gymnasts with and without back pain demonstrate different movement patterns during gymnastics skills. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were differences in back movements during back walkovers and back handsprings among female artistic gymnasts.


      Female artistic gymnasts (8–18 years old) with and without back pain wore inertial sensors on their torso, arms, and legs while performing back walkovers (N = 14) and back handsprings (N = 15) on the floor and balance beam at their training gymnastics facilities.


      Gymnasts with back pain had similar spine peak extension, peak flexion, and range of motion during back walkovers and back handsprings compared to gymnasts without back pain. Additionally, no differences in sagittal plane spine kinematics were found between the groups at any specific time point during either the back walkover or back handspring skills. However, a large portion of the data collected was excluded during quality assurance, thus our final sample sizes are small.


      These findings suggest that gymnasts with back pain have similar sagittal plane movements to those without back pain. The relationship between back pain and gymnastics training load/intensity is currently unclear. We suggest future studies to investigate common artistic gymnastics skills and back pain prevalence with more participants, full-body motion analysis with kinetic measurement capabilities, and longitudinally for those demonstrating back pain.


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