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The agony of aches and pains -- amateur athletes feel them, too

October 30, 2008 | 11:29 am

We all know professional athletes suffer injuries all the time, but that’s an understood part of the gig.

BowlersBut amateur athletes can experience serious aches and pains as well, according to a study that examined amateur bowlers. Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel surveyed 98 amateur bowlers involved in two bowling clubs. They were given questionnaires to assess musculoskeletal disorders as well as other factors such as features of the game itself.

Some 62% of bowlers said they experienced musculoskeletal symptoms in one or more joints during the last year. The number of leagues that bowlers participated in was a predictor of painful joints in the upper extremities, and the average achievement of bowlers predicted the number of painful joints in the entire body.

A few tips for amateur athletes was offered by Navah Ratzon, lead author of the study published recently in the journal Work, and director of the occupational therapy department at Tel Aviv University, via a release. She said that players of ball sports such as tennis, golf and basketball should understand that one unnatural move, such as a twist of the back, could have painful consequences. While stretching is always important, so is exercising the muscles that don’t get used that often. For example, tennis players and bowlers need to work their non-dominant arms, as well as shoring up other muscle groups to balance any asymmetries.

"Increasing numbers of adults are pursuing amateur athletics during their leisure hours," Ratzon said. "But we've found worrying indications that this activity — when not done properly — may have negative effects on the musculoskeletal system."

She added that people should avoid stressing out about their amateur endeavors. Becoming anxious about missing practices or spending too much time on a sport can aggravate persistent health issues.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Mark Boster / L.A. Times