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Research Review: "Ready Position" and Back Pain

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Joo Se Kev View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10/09/2020 at 6:34am
Hey guys!

I'm starting a free "research roundup" service for table tennis players. If you'd like to get an email once a month or so with a roundup of the latest research on table tennis, you can join here:


The first issue comes out on the 13th of this month.

I try to keep each breakdown concise and provide some practical take-aways as well. See below for an example!

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Is your "ready position" the root of your back pain?


In this study, 22 competitive female table tennis players completed a questionnaire on spinal pain and were given a body postural assessment that compared their normal standing posture with their table tennis "ready position." Over half of the participants reported a medium level of back pain with 36% citing a level of pain that required them to stop training. The athletes were also tended towards a kyphotic (hunched forward) posture, and were asymmetrical in the alignment of their pelvis and spinous process.

The researchers concluded that due to the number of practice hours required to become competitive in table tennis, the risk for postural defects, asymmetries, and spinal pain may be higher than average. They recommended being wary of training volume, assessing technical form issues with a coach, and performing exercises that improve symmetry of the work of the upper limbs, body trunk muscles and the pelvis.

Key Takeaway:

Athletes displaying sport-specific asymmetries is nothing new. To some extent, this is unavoidable. If you are proactive, however, you may be able to counteract this to some degree.

Here are a few places to start:

- Incorporate things like Cat/camels, Wall slides, Bird dogs, and T-spine mobilizations as part of your warm-up
- Engage in full body strength training using unilateral movements
- Balance all that TT flexion with movements that work on extension and external rotation—Face pulls, Y-raises, External rotations, Supermans, etc.

Note: Most people are a little asymmetrical. And few have perfect posture. If you're not experiencing any pain or restrictions in movement, don't "WebMD" yourself into a crisis here. 

A large part of posture is awareness. Simply strengthening certain muscles is unlikely to change your daily posture; you need to actively build an awareness and self-correct throughout the day (shoulders back, proud chest, etc.). 


Edited by Joo Se Kev - 10/09/2020 at 6:35am
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kevo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kevo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/09/2020 at 1:37pm
Signed up. A really good idea, Joo! Looking forward to seeing some of the studies/articles you find.
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Valiantsin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Valiantsin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/09/2020 at 3:51pm
Travell, J.G. & Simons, D.G. Myofascial pain and dysfunction: The trigger point manual (Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1983)
Enough to understand how to deal with that pain.

To change training sessions you need coach who has patafiseology background. All other stuff is just broscience which can lead to something bad.
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Joo Se Kev View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joo Se Kev Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/09/2020 at 6:17pm
Originally posted by kevo kevo wrote:

Signed up. A really good idea, Joo! Looking forward to seeing some of the studies/articles you find.

Thanks!
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blahness View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/09/2020 at 8:32pm
Lol the fundamental reason for their back pain is their insistence of bending and twisting at the lumbar region.... which is still being taught by majority of coaches these days with 0 knowledge of healthy biomechanics.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Valiantsin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/10/2020 at 12:00am
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Lol the fundamental reason for their back pain is their insistence of bending and twisting at the lumbar region.... which is still being taught by majority of coaches these days with 0 knowledge of healthy biomechanics.
Lol as Lough out of loud is the only disagreement from my side. It should be cry.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote unstopabl3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/17/2020 at 6:13pm
Signed up, will give it a read thanks.
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Joo Se Kev View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joo Se Kev Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/18/2020 at 5:21am
Great! This month's issue already went out but their will be a new one next month.
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Baal View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/18/2020 at 7:03am
As a scientist with a history of TT-induced back pain, now gone thankfully (!!) some of the best lay information I have found is a site called painscience.com.  It really provides great evidence based information.   It also highlights how little is known about a lot of back pain.

Without a doubt, TT is a tough sport for the lower back for some players at all levels..

With that said as someone who serves as on the editorial boards of four different scientific journals,  I find the study cited in the first post to be laughably bad, the authors should really be embarrassed.   I'm NOT criticizing the OP!!  He always has good suggestions.   But really, there's not a single conclusion in that article that can be supported by what the authors actually did.  The thing is, there has been such a proliteration of so-called open access academic journals that pretty much anything, no matter how $hi##y can get published.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joo Se Kev Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/18/2020 at 8:07am
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

As a scientist with a history of TT-induced back pain, now gone thankfully (!!) some of the best lay information I have found is a site called painscience.com.  It really provides great evidence based information.   It also highlights how little is known about a lot of back pain.

Without a doubt, TT is a tough sport for the lower back for some players at all levels..

With that said as someone who serves as on the editorial boards of four different scientific journals,  I find the study cited in the first post to be laughably bad, the authors should really be embarrassed.   I'm NOT criticizing the OP!!  He always has good suggestions.   But really, there's not a single conclusion in that article that can be supported by what the authors actually did.  The thing is, there has been such a proliteration of so-called open access academic journals that pretty much anything, no matter how $hi##y can get published.  

Welcome to the "slim-pickings" world of table tennis specific research! I'll be drawing from the broader research body as well, so there will be studies that are a lot more robust (systematic reviews, meta-analyses, etc.) included in my roundups too.

I've also found a lot of value in that pain science website. Good stuff!
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Baal View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/18/2020 at 11:37am
True, there ain't much there if you want TT-specific content in English.
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