Jana Pittman Stressfracture

Pittman strikes injury hurdle
By Scott Gullan
July 21, 2005

JANA Pittman’s world title defence is in serious doubt with the champion hurdler struck down by a back injury.

With less than three weeks to go before the start of the world championships in Helsinki, Pittman has been shocked by the news that she has a stress fracture in her lower back.

Scans in London last night confirmed the injury and while a final decision on the world championships won’t be made until next week, Pittman has already pulled out of two critical lead-up events in Helsinki and Oslo.

The 400m hurdles world champion has been unable to train since the weekend when the soreness in her back, which she had been experiencing over the past three months, became severe to the point where she was struggling to run.

It is a cruel twist of fate for Pittman who suffered a serious knee injury on the eve of the Athens Olympics last year.

While she made an amazing recovery to get to the start line just three weeks after an operation, the gold medal favourite wasn’t herself in the final and could only finish fifth.

“I’m trying to be optimistic still but it does feel like a case of deja vu,” Pittman said last night.

“It’s just bad luck and I really don’t want to comment because I’ve learned a lot from last year. I don’t want for this to become a circus.”

Her every move became front-page news in the lead-up to Athens as she embarked on the extraordinary comeback and Pittman is wary of creating any similar hysteria.
She is taking a few days to weigh up her options with medical opinion believed to have indicated that the fracture could get worse if she continues on towards Helsinki.

That worst case scenario would then impact on next year’s Melbourne Commonwealth Games as the rehabilitation from back injuries is extremely slow, sometimes taking up to six or nine months to fully recover.

Pittman, who won the world title in Paris in 2003, indicated earlier this year that being fit and healthy for her hometown Commonwealth Games was her No.1 priority.

The injury comes at a time when the Australian star was feeling she was getting back to the form that made her the best in the world.

Pittman has been living in England since earlier in the year with her fiance, British hurdler Chris Rawlinson, who is also now her coach.

After missing all of the Australian summer season, Pittman has gradually returned to full fitness following an extensive lay-off post Athens.

She finished third in her first major race of the European season in Paris earlier this month before improving significantly to finish a close second to American Lashinda Demus in the Golden League meet in Rome two weeks ago.

Herald Sun



Rawlinson To Test Fitness
Wed 20 Jul, 5:09 PM

Chris Rawlinson will sound out his fitness this weekend before finally deciding whether to compete in the 400metres hurdles at the IAAF World Championships.

The Commonwealth champion, who ran after a disastrous 400m flat race on Saturday in Loughborough, had admitted the latest in a series of setbacks would result in him missing a fourth appearance at the championships which are to be staged in Helsinki.

But Rawlinson, who in the last three months has suffered from a viral illness, had a hernia operation and suffered a foot injury, will give it one final fling before finally turning his back on the trip to Finland.

“Now I’m going to give it a go at Crystal Palace and I have set myself a target of running sub-49 seconds,” said Rawlinson ahead to Friday’s Norwich Union London Grand Prix meeting.

Rawlinson added: "It was a spur-of-the-moment decision when I suggested last weekend that I wouldn’t be going to the worlds.

"I wouldn’t expect or ask the selectors to pick me on that kind showing (at Loughborough), but this week in training I ran a split 400m which was my second fastest ever of my career.

"There’s no point in getting to Helsinki then being knocked out in the heats. Being realistic I’ve set myself a target of making the final.

"If I feel I cannot do that, there’s no point in going. I don’t want to embarrass myself in a British vest.

"It’s been a horrendous time for me and I just haven’t had the chance with illness and injuries to prepare properly for this season, and I haven’t had enough races.

“I’ve had an MRI (scan) for the foot injury and that restricted me immensely. All I’ve been able to do, until a couple of weeks ago, is some cycling and get in the swimming pool to keep myself in condition.”

Rawlinson admitted that if the weather conditions are unhelpful at the London meeting where he meets his UK heir apparent Rhys Williams, winner of the European Under-23 gold medal last week, he will take that into consideration.

"If I run and win in 49.1secs I would obviously see that as a positive. But if I run 49.1secs, whatever the conditions are, and finish fifth or sixth, there’s no point in asking to be considered for the team.

"There’s no sense whatsoever in going there and getting knocked out in the heats. It’s all very disappointing because last winter down in Australia I had my best ever sessions.

“The training went incredibly well, then I came back home and everything became a disaster.”

Stress fracture in her lower back. This sounds like a weightlifting injury. She does pretty heavy jump squats, which is all i can think of that might have caused it.

Are lower back stress fractures common among sprinters?

how heavy, how many???

This is from memory so I may be wrong, but I do remember thinking that it seemed pretty heavy (though she is a very big girl!) and that I at a similar height (a few inches taller) and build would struggle with it. I weight 75Kg, 189cm and apparently she races at 68.5Kg (though she was probably around 71Kg at the time, 181cm.

This was about 4-5 months ago. Sets of squats (maybe 3-5 reps) almost to parallel with about 110-130Kg. Followed by jump squats in I think sets of three with a minimum of 50Kg maximum of around 75Kg, which is a good % of her body weight.

I’m so against load-bearing jump squats. Perhaps I’m totally wrong about it, but I think they’re so dangerous because of the instability factor and therefore injury potential.

PLUS I suspect you could achieve a better result by jumping more explosively/faster and improving the conversion speed from eccentric to concentric at lift-off without adding any load to basic bodyweight.

I used to request athletes I coached to do a set or three of vertical jumps following completion of their squat routine.

And to ask a hurdler to add a heavily-loaded component to gymnasium plyometrics when so much of their event-specific training (ie: hurdling) is already plyometric seems to me to be more than merely superfluous, it is potentially detrimental not to mention dangerous. The crushing effect on the spin and sacrum would be huge. Why take such a risk?

Its all about “transfer to the track”. I’m still undecided about whether this is really possible with sprinting. However, at the moment my list of priorities has safety at the top and transfer below that.

If you are going to do resisted jumps I think the best bet is to have the resistance on the hips or use a Vertamax or something similar. That or use a weight vest but jump upwards and land on a box or high jump mat to reduce the loading at landing.

Forgive my ignorance, but I never heard about stress fractures in the back.

I thought stress fractures are only the long term effect after ignoring shin spints for a long time.

What would an athlete feel before it comes to a stress fracture in the back?
Spine-splints? :wink:

And isn’t it true that athletes usually only suffer from stress fractions, if they ignored a very painful state of certain bones for a longer time? According to the very informative thread concerning shin splints which was discussed here not so long ago I’d think so???

Jana the drama queen! What else!?

I was a big fan until Athens OG. That girl has some seriouos head issues.

KK, jump squats with DBs are pretty safe. Most athletes would find it easy to handle up to 50% of their bodyweight divided in two hands.

I know lots of ways of loading the jumps. I was a long jumper in another life and coached a junior international long jumper.

I did a lot of that stuff myself and advocated it.

But now I don’t think it helped. I think it slowed the amortization phase. Loading messes with the neural patterning, although I guess that might be more of an issue if you loaded fairly frequently.

Perhaps the bigger issue is one of safety: “hasten slowly” and “if in doubt leave it out” have been a couple of my guiding messages.

The ultimate objective is to arrive at the championships final ready to compete - not watch from the medical clinic.


LONDON, July 21 - Jana Pittman is confident she will recover from her back injury in time to defend her world 400m hurdles title next month.
A hairline stress fracture in her back threatens to derail the Australian’s title defence at the world athletics championships in Helsinki, just as her knee injury destroyed her Olympic hopes last year.
Surgery corrected her knee and allowed Pittman to compete at the Athens Olympics where she finished fifth in the final.
A stress fracture in the vertebra from years of wear and tear, however, is a different matter, but Pittman believes she will take her place on the starting blocks in Helsinki.
It's a day to day thing, there's nothing I can do about it,'' she said today. There’s no miracle cure. Not like last year when I had an operation and the injury was gone and it was a matter of whether I could get back on the track.
This one, it's just a matter of whether my body is quick enough. I can't see why not.'' Pittman has already ruled herself out of upcoming grand prix meetings in Helsinki and Oslo. She said she would make a decision this weekend on whether to compete in Helsinki. I don’t have any news, I won’t know anything until the weekend,’’ Pittman said.
Pittman has still been training in the pool, gym and on the bike at her English base in Loughborough with fiance and new coach Chris Rawlinson but admitted she was losing valuable time on the track.
She has had a mixed season so far, clocking what was believed to be the fastest time of the year to that date when she ran 53.44 to win on her return to the Athens Olympic Stadium last month.
She came a bad third in Paris when she clocked 54.15, but bounced back in Rome last week with a 53.74 to again finish second behind the world title favourite Lashinda Demus from the United States.
Pittman put her injury into context following a second round of terrorist bombs in London today and the death of Australian road cyclist Amy Gillett when she was hit by a car while training in Germany.
There's a lot worse things happening in the world,'' she said. There was another scare in London today and the cyclists in Germany, so I’ve got nothing to worry about.’’

Injured Pittman pulls out
By Jenny McAsey
July 29, 2005

AUSTRALIA’s best medal hope, Jana Pittman, has been forced out of the world championships after doctors told her she could jeopardise her career if she tried to compete with a back injury.

Speaking from England last night, world 400m hurdles champion Pittman said she had been on an emotional roller-coaster but had no choice other than to withdraw from the titles, which start in Helsinki tomorrow week.

“I am disappointed I won’t be able to defend my world title but rehabilitation is my priority. I’ve been told I could do serious long-term damage which would have left me with little chance of running at next year’s Commonwealth Games and even hampered my preparation for Beijing,” Pittman said.

“I am upset because I was in such amazing shape and that is my biggest disappointment. You want to know what you are capable of.”

She was diagnosed two weeks ago with a hairline fracture in a vertebrae in her lower back. She rested and then tried to resume training this week, but the injury had not improved enough.

“On Monday I was very confident because I jogged without pain and had no soreness the next day,” Pittman said.

“Five or six doctors had a round-table discussion and said they really wanted me to pull out. I said no, I want to run, and went to the track again on Tuesday and trained. It was okay at first and then it was just too painful to run, and that is after two weeks off.”

Pittman’s withdrawal seriously weakens the national team for the world championships.

She was the most likely gold medal contender, having run well in lead-up races in Europe this season.

In 2003 she became the youngest 400m hurdles world champion when she won in 53.22sec, still her fastest time.
The team for Helsinki, which began with 22 members, is shrinking almost daily. Early this week pole vault medal hope Paul Burgess pulled out with a calf injury and 1500m runner Sarah Jamieson is also a no-show with a calf problem.

Distance runner Benita Johnson is under a cloud after running poorly in Stockholm on Tuesday and is waiting on blood test results.

The main medal chances will rest with 5000m runner Craig Mottram, and walkers Nathan Deakes and Jane Saville.

“It is disappointing for Jana, but we are confident she’s made the right decision, and will be able to concentrate now on the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next year,” Athletics Australia chief executive Danny Corcoran said.

A year ago Pittman was in the midst of a similar drama when she injured her knee in the lead-up to the Athens Olympics.

The subsequent operation and struggle to be fit for the Games became a daily soap opera played out in the Australian media.

She made it to the line but the injury had taken its toll and she finished fifth.

This time around there will be no desperate dash for the starting line. Pittman has been told if she defies medical advice and runs, she risks her long-term future in the sport.

“The doctors didn’t even want me to have the choice to compete because if the injury was to fracture, the only result would be to have a pin put in my back or fuse two of the bones, which would have left me with little chance of running at the Commonwealth Games and probably even hamper my (2008 Olympics) Beijing attempt because you would have to have a full year out,” she said.

“I would have loved to defend my world title but I will have another chance before Beijing, at the next world championships in two years.”

She said last night she planned to return to Australia to visit her family briefly before going back to resume her rehabilitation in the UK, where she lives with fiance and coach, Chris Rawlinson.

Doctors have told her she must not train for at least a month.

“They don’t even want me to bike or jog or do anything for four weeks. I will go insane because I haven’t had time off for so long. I can’t do anything, not even abdominal exercises and it will be the biggest challenge of all,” she said.

The Australian