BACKGROUND: High muscle strength is considered relevant for preventing musculoskeletal disorders and long-term sickness absence. However, prospective studies on the association between muscle strength and future musculoskeletal disorders and long-term sickness absence are few and show contrasting results.
AIMS: To investigate the association between low muscle strength and future musculoskeletal disorders and long-term sickness absence.
METHODS: Muscle strength in trunk flexion and extension, shoulder elevation and abduction as well as handgrip was recorded from a representative sample of Danish workers (n = 421) in 1995. Musculoskeletal disorders were reported 5 years later (in 2000). Information on long-term sickness absence was retrieved from a register of social transfer payments in the period 1996-2007.
RESULTS: Regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, smoking, body mass index and physical work demands showed that workers with low muscle strength (the lowest quartile) of trunk extension and flexion, shoulder elevation and abduction and handgrip did not have a significantly increased risk for future musculoskeletal disorders or long term sickness absence compared with stronger workers.
CONCLUSIONS: Low muscle strength does not seem to be a good predictor for musculoskeletal disorders and long-term sickness absence in the general working population.
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