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BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018 Jul 3;4(1):e000395. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000395. eCollection 2018.

Musculoskeletal pain and its association with maturity and sports performance in 14-year-old sport school students.

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The Rydberg Laboratory for Applied Sciences, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden.
Spenshult Research and Development Center, Halmstad, Sweden.
Malmö Sports Academy, Malmö, Sweden.
Primary Health Care Unit, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund, Section of Rheumatology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.



In youth sports, musculoskeletal pain is often studied from the standpoint of sports injuries, but little is known about pain conditions in which athletes still participate. The aim was to study the frequency of pain and associations with maturity offset, health status and sports performance in 14-year-old sport school students.


Cross-sectional design. One hundred and seventy-eight students (108 boys and 70 girls) completed anthropometric measures for maturity offset (height, weight and sitting height), questionnaires (pain mannequin and EQ-5D for health status) and sports performance tests (sprint, agility, counter-movement jump and grip strength). Differences between groups were analysed with Student's t-test and analysis of covariance.


Thirty-one students (18.6%) reported infrequent pain, 85 (50.9%) frequent pain and 51 (30.5%) constant pain. Students in the constant pain group had worse health status than those in the infrequent pain group. Boys with constant pain (n=27) had a lower mean maturity offset (-0.38 vs 0.07 years; p=0.03) than boys with infrequent pain (n=22), and pain was associated with worse sports performance. There was no difference in maturity or sports performance between girls with constant pain (n=24) and girls with infrequent pain (n=9).


Musculoskeletal pain is common in sport school students and coincides with worse health status and with a younger biological age in boys. The high prevalence of pain should be acknowledged by coaches and student healthcare workers in order to promote a healthy and sustainable development in young athletes.


adolescent; children's health and exercise; exercise testing; maturation; sporting injuries

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