ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Back pain amongst children is on the rise
exponentially. Hamstring tightness is known to have cause/effect
relationship with low back pain. Presence of hamstring tightness is also
associated with increase in risk of muscular strains. The purpose of
this study was to assess the prevalence of hamstring tightness in school
going children in the United Arab Emirates. To our knowledge, this is
the first such reported study in the Middle East. METHODS: All children
of a school based in Dubai, UAE from grade 2 to grade 10 aged 7-15 years
were assessed by a team of 5 physiotherapists. Hamstring tightness was
evaluated by standard active knee extension [AKE] test in the school
medical department. A total of 317 children were assessed [634
limbs] by two observers and any inability to actively extend the knee
completely while the hip being at 90-degree flexion was considered as
hamstring tightness. RESULTS: Out of 317 subjects, 287 [90.53%]
were found to have at least some hamstring tightness. There was a
statistically significant difference between genders: boys showing more
prevalence. All age groups across the school showed similar pattern.
This may be the highest ever recorded prevalence of hamstring tightness
in school children in any reported study in English literature.
CONCLUSION: An alarming proportion of children in a Dubai based school
have hamstring tightness. Wider studies with larger numbers should be
undertaken so as to ascertain if this is in some way related to lack of
active lifestyle in the UAE where gadget-dependency of younger
generation as well as prolonged sitting might be a causative factor.
Whether such high prevalence is pathological or physiological also needs
to be addressed. School authorities and parents in UAE should engage the
children in regular stretching programs.