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Nordic Skiing and Low Back Pain

Some may argue that there is a decreased chance of injury with Nordic skiing vs alpine skiing.

However, the repetitive nature of classic Nordic skiing can lead to overuse injuries in the elbow, knees, or low back. We will focus on low back pain associated with classic Nordic skiing.  Studies have shown that the prolonged and repetitive flexion and extension loading of the spine does not lead to more low back pain (LBP); however, a large or increased training volume and/or history of LBP are risk factors for developing LBP.

Often those with low back pain that are cross-country skiers will demonstrate tight latissimus dorsi, the large muscles of your back and decreased hip extension flexibility.  Tightness in either or both of these muscle groups leads to increased lumbar extension.

Below are stretches you can do to improve the flexibility of these muscles and reduce the load on your spine while enjoying the snow through Nordic skiing. It is suggested to hold stretches for 30 seconds or longer and to perform 3 repetitions each day for optimal lengthening.

Latissimus dorsi stretch on chair

Hip flexor stretch



Work Cited: Foss, Ida Stange, Ingar Holme, and Roald Bahr. “The prevalence of low back pain among former elite cross-country skiers, rowers, orienteerers, and nonathletes: a 10-year cohort study.” The American journal of sports medicine 40.11 (2012): 2610-2616.