Trunk mobility in the sagittal and horizontal planes: Clinical methods to quantify movement in an elite male surfing population
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High numbers of acute shoulder and chronic lumbar injuries have been identified in a surfing population. A simple screening tool could be used to determine whether thoracic spine dysfunction is a possible contributor to shoulder or lumbar injuries. Importantly, thoracic mobility in the sagittal and horizontal planes are key requirements in the sport of surfing; however to date the normal values of these movements have not yet been quantified in a surfing population.
To develop a reliable method to quantify thoracic mobility in the sagittal plane; to assess the reliability of a thoracic rotation method, and quantify thoracic mobility in an elite male surfing population.
Clinical Measurement, reliability (repeated measures) and comparative study. Methods: 27 subjects were used to determine the reliability of a new method to assess thoracic mobility in the sagittal plane and 30 subjects were used to confirm the reliability of an existing thoracic rotation method. A total of 15 elite surfers were used as part of a comparative analysis with age and gender matched controls. Results: Intra-rater reliability (within and between session) intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) values ranged between 0.95 - 0.99 for both thoracic methods in the sagittal plane and between 0.95 – 0.98 for the rotation method. There was no significant difference in the amount of thoracic mobility in the sagittal plane between groups; however the elite surfing group had significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater rotation than the comparative group (mean rotation 63.57° versus 40.80° respectively). Symmetry was also confirmed between left and right thoracic rotation in the elite surfing group (63.06 versus 64.01). Conclusion: This study has illustrated reliable methods to assess the thoracic spine in the sagittal and horizontal planes. It has also quantified ROM in a surfing cohort; identifying thoracic rotation as a key movement. This information may provide clinicians, coaches and athletic trainers with imperative information regarding the importance of maintaining adequate thoracic rotation and symmetry. From a screening perspective thoracic rotation should be assessed for performance purposes and to limit the potential for injury in the thoracic spine or in surrounding regions.