Rhythmic gymnastics (RG) unites aesthetic, ballet-like motion, and all aspects of gymnastics. To reach elite level, girls begin at early age the intensive training. To date it is unclear if such demanding training influences the incidence and intensity of painful overuse injuries. The purpose of this study is to analyze anatomical painful regions and pain intensity in elite level rhythmic gymnasts (elRG) and compare results with an age-matched control group (CG).
This prospective field study was carried out at the European Championship in RG 2013 (218 participating athletes, Vienna, Austria). Volunteering athletes were interviewed according to a preformed questionnaire. As CG secondary school pupils without any competitive sports experience were analyzed accordingly.
Overall, 243 young females (144 elRG/66 % of all participants and 99 CG) were observed. ElRGs were significantly (s.) smaller, lighter, and had s. stronger pain (p < 0.001). A total of 72 % of athletes reported to have at least one painful body region compared with 52 % of CG (p < 0.001). ElRG had nearly three times more serious injuries than the CG. In all 23 % off all elRG reported to have had no access to professional medical care. ElRGs were s. more frequently (25 vs 9 %) affected at the lumbar spine and the ankle joint (17.4 vs 7 %).
To our knowledge, this trial analyzes the largest cohort of elRG to date. Hence, it is clearly alluded that intensive training in RG is a significant factor causing more and stronger pain than in a CG.