Monday, July 1, 2013

Hip Injuries in Female Rowers


Early morning rowers on the lake are a common sight in our hometown of Seattle. Most prior studies of rowing overuse injuries have focused on high rates of minor injuries to the lumbar spine, knee, wrist, and ribs. However, a recent paper in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research examined injuries to the hip in adolescent and young adult rowers. In a retrospective review, clinicians from the Blue Ridge Bone and Joint Clinic, Asheville, NC, identified 21 hips in 18 rowers, mean age of 18.5 years, with significant hip joint pathology. Most of the patients (85%) were female prep school or collegiate rowers, and they exhibited isolated groin pain and physical findings consistent with impingement. Eighteen of the 21 hips (85%) eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair labral tears and other pathology.  However, only 10 of the patients returned to rowing after surgery (2 were lost to follow-up). The authors believe that the mechanism of injury may be the repeated hyperflexion of the hip which compresses the hip as the seat slides up and the blade is placed in the water at the catch. The hips both go from extreme flexion to extension thousands of times during practice and competition.


The bottom line of this study is that rowing may cause significant overuse injury in the hip that can limit future participation in the sport.  If a rower has early signs of hip pain, she should proceed cautiously and seek qualified help from an orthopedic specialist. A young rower with a history of hip disorders should be particularly vigilant.

Read more about the study here.

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