Gymnasts seem to have extreme extension of their spines. Can this cause back injuries?
A recent study of five female contortionists between the ages of 20 and 49 demonstrated several degenerative changes among all the participants. It is hypothesized by the authors of the study that extreme extension is probably the cause of anterosuperior limbus fractures, the most significant of the findings on magnetic resonance imaging. Three of the five contortionists had limbus fractures. Disc bulges, annular tears, and osteophytes were also among the findings. The authors did comment that given the extreme spinal extension of the contortionists, they had less spinal pathology than expected. This was hypothesized to be due to their rigorous training, starting at a young age.