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Musculoskeletal Disorders in Motorsports

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According to a report published on the British Journal of Sports Medicine, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are widespread amongst stage rally drivers and their co-drivers. The condition also affects drivers in other motorsports such as Formula One.

Manifestation of Musculoskeletal Disorder

Musculoskeletal disorder is characterised by injuries and pain in parts of the human musculoskeletal system which includes ligaments, joints, muscles, nerves, tendons and other parts of the back, neck and limbs.

In the publication, 91% of rally drivers who were interviewed reported discomfort in at least one part of their body after rallying. 70% experienced lumbar pains, 54% cervical spine problems, 47% shoulder pains, and 35% thoracic spine complications.

The pain and discomfort that rally drivers with MSD experience are much similar to the typical symptoms of osteoarthritis, but then, the condition requires proper diagnosis through physical examination, MRI, X-rays, or Nordic Questionnaires. Throughout the history of rallying, many drivers have been diagnosed with musculoskeletal disorders.

Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Motorsports

While MSD manifests itself differently depending on the type of motorsports, there are two main causes. First is poor sitting posture and here, you can think of the F1 cockpits which focus on safety but not the appropriate sitting posture. The other reason is the vibrations and mechanical shocks, that result from the powerful engines and of course the bumpy terrain.

Treatment and Prevention

The treatment of MSD’s vary depending on the extent of damage and ranges from therapies to anaesthetics and anti-inflammatory medication. But then, prevention is the best option, and that’s why several adjustments have been made over the years to enhance comfort and reduce vibrations and mechanical shock.

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