African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Prevalence of triathlon-related musculoskeletal pain among Kwa- Zulu Natal tri-athletes

TJ Ellapen, L Chetty, C Dorasami, S Abrahams, FA Desai, HJ van Heerden


International epidemiological investigations report that triathlon as a sport produces musculoskeletal pain and injury. However there has being no injury surveillance studies conducted among South African tri-athletes recording the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and injury. Forty-three tri-athletes participated in a retrospective, epidemiological investigation by voluntary informed consent. Inclusion criteria for eligibility to participate in the study were: all subjects must be registered with KZN Triathlon Association and voluntary consent. The subjects’ training history and epidemiology of triathlon-related musculoskeletal pain were gathered employing the use of a self report musculoskeletal pain questionnaire, in addition to body mass, stature, Q-angles and navicular height measurements. Descriptive statistics which included the mode, mean, frequency, percentages and inferential statistics comprising chi-square and t- tests (with the probability set at 0.05) were employed in the statistical analysis. Thirty nine subjects (90.69%) experienced triathlon-related musculoskeletal pain (p<0.0001). The prevalence of triathlon-related musculoskeletal pain specific to the various anatomical sites were knees (32.39%), lower back (16.9%), foot (15.49%), shoulder (12.68%), thigh (9.86%), neck (7.04%), hand (4.23%) and elbow (1.41%) (p<0.0001). The subjects who experienced knee pain had abnormal Q-angles (males: right knee-15.6°, left knee-15° and females: right knee-19.38°, left knee-16.7°) (p<0.0001). Similarly these tri-athletes had differences in the navicular sitting and standing heights (males: right foot-0.61mm, left foot-0.49mm and females: right foot- 0.48mm, left foot-0.46mm) (p<0.001).The predisposing mechanism producing triathlon- related musculoskeletal pain reported by the tri-athletes was due to over-use (94.36%) and direct physical trauma (5.64%) (p<0.0001).

Keywords: Triathlon, musculoskeletal pain, knees.

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