Objective.—The purpose of this study was to quantify rates of back pain among whitewater rafting guides and to look for correlations between the presence of back pain and specific activities associated with guiding. The secondary objective was to provide suggestions for outfitters according to the results of this study, which may be of assistance to their guide staff.
Methods.—A mail-out–mail-back survey was sent to 2510 rafting guides working in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and the Grand Canyon during the summer of 2004 to quantify whitewater raft guiding characteristics and incidence of back pain.
Results.—Of the 390 surveys returned, 77.4% of guides reported back pain while guiding and 20.8% had back pain lasting longer than 1 week at the time of the survey. Stacking 5 or more inflated boats for transport was correlated with the presence of pain (χ2 = 8.4, ν = 1, P < .01), and loading and unloading rafts while guests are waiting was correlated with back pain lasting longer than 1 week (χ2 = 8.1, ν = 1, P < .01).
Conclusions.—The rates of back pain among, and activities of, whitewater rafting guides were reported. Rates of back pain among whitewater rafting guides who returned our survey appear similar to the general population. Although determining a particular cause of pain is difficult, the typical injury seems to be relatively minor in scope.