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In-Shape Teens Less Likely to Have Chronic Pain in Adulthood

If you have teenage clients, you may want to put a bug in their ears about how improved flexibility and endurance now may save them pain later. A study in the February issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine(2006; 40, 107–13) found that teenage fitness can lower the risk of neck tension in adulthood.

Researchers followed up with more than 1,000 men and women 25 years after they had completed strength and flexibility tests; these took place in 1976, when participants were 12–17 years old. A sit-and-reach test measured flexibility, whereas endurance was measured by how many sit-ups the teens could do in 30 seconds.

Nearly 40% of women reported having neck tension as adults, compared with about 15% of men. The men who were more flexible as teens were half as likely to have neck tension as those who were least flexible. Women with the greatest endurance strength in adolescence had a 34% lower risk of neck tension than those with the least endurance strength.

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