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Research Quest on the genetics of lower back pain, weight loss & tennis

The genetics of lower back pain, weight loss & tennis
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Here are 3 studies I read this week that you might find interesting:

1) 2018 review by Hector & Phillips:

As the days are warming up and summer is inching closer here in South Africa, I’m getting more and more messages from athletes regarding weight loss without muscle loss.

Standard recommendations for protein intake sit at 0.8g/kg but there seems to be plenty of literature recommending increasing this range during weight loss periods to 1.6 – 2.4g/kg body weight for athletes.

Some studies insist that it is protein quality over quantity that matters. Others suggest that timing and supplementation is the key.

2) 2017 review by Chen et al.:

​Can your DNA play a role in your lower back pain?

In certain cases, it can be up to 20%. Ankylosing spondylitis is a variation of arthritis that affects your spine.

A gene by the name of HLA-B27 contributes to around 20% of the heritability of this disease.

According to this review, it is considered “one of the most important factors for the development of AS” and is present in up to 90% of patients that develop this type of lower back pain.

Here’s the important bit: it’s all about how you position this information to your patient.

If the patient feels that it is a sword over their head then your patient education wasn’t on point. When communicated correctly, the patient should feel empowered to proactively address their increased risk rather than reactively suffering later on with a victimised mind-set.

When you position your education effectively, it increases their compliance and improves their lives.

3) 2018 study by Fleming et al.:

On Tuesday, I gave feedback to a tennis player on his performance DNA results.

I found this paper incredibly helpful as the researchers looked at the nutrition and recovery habits of competitive tennis players from Europe and North America before, during and after their matches.

Here are some points from their findings:

• 3 – 4 hours before the match the majority of players consumed pasta, oatmeal, and sandwiches. It was important that the foods were lower in fat, protein and fibre to prevent gastrointestinal issues.

• During the match, 94% drank water, 86% ate bananas, and 50% had sports drinks.

• 77% didn’t monitor water intake; of those that did, 50% aimed to drink 500mL and 44% aimed for more than 2L of water.

• 14% reported that they had to eat more when playing on clay.

• After the match, 77% foam rolled, 40% took ice baths, 37% had a protein shake and 26% took a hot bath.


1) Hector, A. J., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Protein Recommendations for Weight Loss in Elite Athletes: A Focus on Body Composition and Performance, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(2), 170-177. Retrieved Oct 7, 2021,

2) Chen B, Li J, He C, Li D, Tong W, Zou Y, Xu W. Role of HLA-B27 in the pathogenesis of ankylosing spondylitis (Review). Mol Med Rep. 2017 Apr;15(4):1943-1951. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2017.6248. Epub 2017 Feb 24. PMID: 28259985; PMCID: PMC5364987

3) Fleming JA, Naughton RJ, Harper LD. Investigating the Nutritional and Recovery Habits of Tennis Players. Nutrients. 2018 Apr 3;10(4):443. doi: 10.3390/nu10040443. PMID: 29614035; PMCID: PMC5946228.

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Written by Kyle van Heerden

Online Educator at Research Raconteur

Top 10 Research Quests from Research Raconteur

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