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Exploring the Relationship Between Mental Toughness and Self-Compassion in the Context of Sport Injury

Karissa L. Johnson, Danielle L. Cormier, Kent C. Kowalski, and Amber D. Mosewich

Helping athletes cope effectively with injury is likely of great interest to many sport stakeholders. Mental toughness is one psychological factor positively associated with resilience and sport performance, though stubborn persistence through injury might not always be conducive to adaptive athlete outcomes. Self-compassion—a balanced, nonjudgmental approach in relating to oneself when experiencing suffering—might help circumvent these pitfalls and complement injury recovery. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between mental toughness and self-compassion in a sport injury context. This study consisted of 2 phases—phase I quantitatively assessed the relationships between mental toughness, self-compassion, and other psychological constructs, while phase II used qualitative interviews to corroborate and inform these findings. In phase I, competitive athletes who were injured at the time of data collection (n = 81) completed mental toughness, self-compassion, coping resources, self-esteem, and self-criticism questionnaires. Self-compassion was positively correlated with mental toughness (r = .48, P < .01), coping resources (r = .54, P < .05), and self-esteem (r = .60, P < .01). Self-compassion and self-criticism were negatively correlated with each other (r = –.52, P < .01). Results from hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that self-compassion was a significant predictor of mental toughness (ΔR 2 = .07, P < .01), coping resources (ΔR 2 = .10, P < .01), and self-criticism (ΔR 2 = .06, P < .01), beyond the effects of self-esteem. Four injured athletes who scored above the median on mental toughness and self-compassion measures were interviewed in phase II. Thematic analysis generated 2 themes: (1) self-compassion grants access to wise mental toughness and (2) mental toughness helps activate self-compassionate actions during injury. These findings are consistent with recent research and suggest that both mental toughness and self-compassion can work together to help athletes cope with sport injury.

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Efficacy of an Audio-Based Biofeedback Intervention to Modify Running Gait in Female Runners

Jacqueline A. Augustine, Sarah Rothstein, Larissa True, and Kevin D. Dames

Context: A variety of gait retraining interventions are available to modify running mechanics associated with musculoskeletal injuries. These often require specialized equipment and/or personnel to prompt the runner toward specific strategies. Objective: To determine whether instructing female recreational runners to “run quietly” could decrease impact force characteristics. Design: Cohort. Setting: Research laboratory. Participants: Fifteen healthy female recreational runners (24 [7] y) volunteered. Interventions: Baseline testing occurred on day 1 (baseline), a posttraining assessment occurred on day 2 (training), and a final assessment occurred 1 week after training on day 3 (follow-up). A smartphone decibel measuring app was used to provide biofeedback on the decibel level of foot strike on day 2 (training). Main Outcomes: Peak vertical force, impact transient, peak and average vertical loading rate, ground contact time, and running economy were collected on each day and compared via repeated-measures analyses of variance. Results: Vertical ground reaction force was lower at follow-up (2.30 bodyweights [BW]) versus baseline (2.39 BW, P = .023) and training (2.34 BW, P = .047). Maximal loading rate decreased from baseline (69.70 BW·s−1) to training (62.24 BW·s−1, P = .021) and follow-up (60.35 BW·s−1, P = .031). There was no change in running economy. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that simple instructions to “run quietly” can yield immediate and sustained reductions in impact force profiles, which do not influence running economy.

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Ultrasound-Guided Percutaneous Needle Electrolysis Combined With Therapeutic Exercise May Add Benefit in the Management of Soleus Injury in Female Soccer Players: A Pilot Study

Blanca De-la-Cruz-Torres, Beatriz Romero-Rodríguez, and Carlos Romero-Morales

Context: The performance of sprints during male soccer matches usually is slow medium paced, where the soleus and gastrocnemius (ankle plantar flexors) play a very important role. As in male soccer, soleus injuries should be considered in female soccer; but the scientific evidence is very limited in this case. Design: Pilot clinical trial study. Objective: To determine whether adding an ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle electrolysis (US-guided PNE) technique to a specific exercise program improved perceived pain at stretching and at palpation, ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, muscle fatigue, and sport performance in women soccer players with soleus injury. Methods: This pilot study recruited 20 female players with chronic soleus injury (type 1, characterized by hypoechoic image) who were assigned to one of 2 groups: an experimental group (exercise program + US-guided PNE; n = 10) or a control group (exercise program + sham stimulation; n = 10). Pain intensity, dorsiflexion range of motion, knee-flexion heel raise test, curve sprint test, and the global rating of change scale were analyzed at baseline and after treatment (4 wk) and there was no further follow-up. Results: Pain intensity at palpation and at stretching, dorsiflexion range of motion, and heel raise test values showed significant improvements (P < .05) between pretreatment and posttreatment for both groups, however, no significant differences were observed between groups. Curve sprint tests did not show significant differences between pretreatment and posttreatment for either group or between groups. However, the percentage of changes always revealed better values in favor of the PNE group. Both groups showed good player satisfaction with the therapies. Conclusion: The application of the US-guided PNE combined with a specific exercise program may cause clinical benefits in the treatment of female soccer players with soleus injury.

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The Effectiveness of Neuromobilization in Patients With Cervical Radiculopathy: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

Eleftherios Paraskevopoulos, George Koumantakis, and Maria Papandreou

Context: Neuromobilization exercises (NE) could be a useful therapeutic tool to induce analgesia and increase function and range of motion (ROM) in patients with musculoskeletal pathologies with neuropathic components; however, the effectiveness of this intervention in patients with cervical radiculopathy (CR) is unknown. Objective: To determine the effectiveness of NE in CR on pain, function, and ROM. Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence Acquisition: An electronic search was performed in the MEDLINE, Scopus, PEDro, and EBSCO databases from inception until June 2022. The authors included randomized clinical trials that evaluated the effectiveness of NE against control groups or other interventions that aimed to treat patients with CR. Evidence Synthesis: Seven clinical trials met the eligibility criteria, and for the quantitative synthesis, 5 studies were included. For the studies that compared NE with a control group, the standardized mean difference for pain was −1.33/10 (95% confidence interval [CI], −1.80 to −0.86; P < .01; I 2 = 0%), for function with the Neck Disability Index was −1.21/50 (95% CI, −1.67 to −0.75; P < .01; I 2 = 0%), and for neck flexion and extensions was 0.66 (95% CI, 0.23 to 1.10; P < .01; I 2 = 0%) and 0.47 (95% CI, 0.04 to 0.90; P < .01; I 2 = 0%), respectively, with evidence of clinical effectiveness. These findings were based on moderate-quality evidence according to the Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation rating. In studies that compared NE with other interventions, the meta-analysis failed to demonstrate the statistical or clinical superiority of NE. Conclusions: Moderate quality of evidence suggests that NE may be superior to no treatment for pain, function, and ROM in patients with CR. In contrast, NE are not superior to other interventions in the same outcomes, based on low- to very low-quality evidence. More high-quality research is needed to assess the consistency of these results.

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Intersession Variability of Knee Extension Kinetics Using a Strain Gauge Device With Differing Clinically Practical Physical Constraints

Christopher M. Juneau, Shelley N. Diewald, Jonathan Neville, John B. Cronin, and Dustin J. Oranchuk

Context: Intrasession reliabilities of isometric knee extension kinetics via portable strain gauge have been reported across several knee joint angles and constraints. However, intersession variabilities, which are more valuable, have yet to be determined. Therefore, we aimed to quantify the intersession variability of knee extension kinetics over 3 testing sessions using an affordable and portable strain gauge. Design: Participants performed maximum voluntary isometric contractions of the knee extensors over 3 sessions. Methods: Eleven (6 men and 5 women; 31 [6.4] y) volunteers performed maximum voluntary isometric contractions in constrained (isokinetic setup with thigh and chest straps) and unconstrained (treatment plinth) conditions. Peak force (PF), peak rate of force development, rate of force development (RFD), and impulse (IMP) from 20% to 80% of PF were assessed. Means, SDs, percentage changes, minimal detectable changes, coefficients of variation (CV), and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated and reported. Results: PF had the lowest intersession variability regardless of condition (CV = 5.5%–13.8%, ICC = .67–.93). However, variability of peak rate of force development (CV [range] = 12.2%–24.7%, ICC = .50–.78), RFD (CV = 10.0%–26.8%, ICC = .48–.84), and IMP (CV = 15.2%–35.4%, ICC = .44–.88) was moderate at best. The constrained condition (CV [SD] = 14.1% [4.8%], ICC = .74 [.08]) had lower variability compared with the plinth (CV = 19.8% [7.9%], ICC = .68 [.15]). Variability improved from sessions 1 to 2 (CV = 20.4% [7.7%], ICC = .64 [.14]) and to sessions 2 to 3 (CV = 15.3% [6.4%], ICC = .76 [.10]). Conclusions: PF can be assessed regardless of setup. However, RFD and IMP changes across sessions should be approached with caution. Backrests and thigh straps improve RFD and IMP variability, and at least 1 familiarization session should be provided before relying on knee-extensor kinetics while utilizing a portable strain gauge.

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Volume 31 (2022): Issue 8 (Nov 2022)

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Movement Regularity Differentiates Specialized and Nonspecialized Athletes in a Virtual Reality Soccer Header Task

Christopher D. Riehm, Scott Bonnette, Michael A. Riley, Jed A. Diekfuss, Christopher A. DiCesare, Andrew Schille, Adam W. Kiefer, Neeru A. Jayanthi, Stephanie Kliethermes, Rhodri S. Lloyd, Mathew W. Pombo, and Gregory D. Myer

Background: Young athletes who specialize early in a single sport may subsequently be at increased risk of injury. While heightened injury risk has been theorized to be related to volume or length of exposure to a single sport, the development of unhealthy, homogenous movement patterns, and rigid neuromuscular control strategies may also be indicted. Unfortunately, traditional laboratory assessments have limited capability to expose such deficits due to the simplistic and constrained nature of laboratory measurement techniques and analyses. Methods: To overcome limitations of prior studies, the authors proposed a soccer-specific virtual reality header assessment to characterize the generalized movement regularity of 44 young female athletes relative to their degree of sport specialization (high vs low). Participants also completed a traditional drop vertical jump assessment. Results: During the virtual reality header assessment, significant differences in center of gravity sample entropy (a measure of movement regularity) were present between specialized (center of gravity sample entropy: mean = 0.08, SD = 0.02) and nonspecialized center of gravity sample entropy: mean = 0.10, SD = 0.03) groups. Specifically, specialized athletes exhibited more regular movement patterns during the soccer header than the nonspecialized athletes. However, no significant between-group differences were observed when comparing participants’ center of gravity time series data from the drop vertical jump assessment. Conclusions: This pattern of altered movement strategy indicates that realistic, sport-specific virtual reality assessments may be uniquely beneficial in exposing overly rigid movement patterns of individuals who engage in repeated sport specialized practice.

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The Influence of Age and Dynamic Balance on Functional Movement Among Active-Duty Police Officers

Madison N. Renner, Stacy L. Gnacinski, Franchesca J. Porter, and David J. Cornell

Context: Although occupational injuries for police officers cannot be prevented, factors that contribute to musculoskeletal injury risk could be better identified to inform preventative interventions. Previous research has supported screening tools such as the functional movement screen (FMS) and Y-Balance Test (YBT) as possible indicators of musculoskeletal injury risk. The purposes of this study are to (1) examine the relationships between age, dynamic balance, and functional movement in police officers and (2) determine how much variance in functional movement is predicted by age and dynamic balance. Methods: This study was conducted in a university research laboratory as part of an ongoing collaboration with a local police department. All data for the current study were collected across 2 separate laboratory visits within a 14-day period. Participants: Thirty-five active-duty police officers (31 men and 4 women; mean [SD], age 33.4 [9.4] y, height 177.4 [8.0] cm, body mass 88.4 [15.3] kg) volunteered to participate in this study. Main Outcome Measures: Functional movement was assessed using the FMS, and FMS overall scores were calculated. Dynamic balance was assessed via the YBT, and lower quarter Y-Balance Test scores (LQYBT%) were calculated. Results: There was a significant negative correlation between FMS overall score and age (r = −.641, P < .001). Correlations between FMS overall score and LQYBT% and between LQYBT% and age were not statistically significant. Age and LQYBT% scores significantly predicted FMS overall scores (F 2,32 = 11.162, P < .001), accounting for 41.1% of the variance in FMS overall scores (R 2 = .411) with age being the only significant predictor. Conclusions: This study confirms that age and FMS overall score have a strong, negative relationship, suggesting that age may be a contributing factor to movement quality and may lead to an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury within this unique population.

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Consequences of Sport-Related Concussion on Health-Related Quality of Life in Adolescents: A Critically Appraised Topic

Mary Margaret Williamson and Jessica Wallace

Clinical Scenario: Sport-related concussions (SRCs) are a prevalent and problematic injury occurring among adolescents participating in sports. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) has been shown to be affected in a portion of adolescents recovering from SRCs, though the exact nature of the relationship has yet to be firmly established for this age group through the duration and completion of recovery. HRQoL can be a nebulous construct but is often described as multifaceted and demonstrates effects of an illness, injury, or condition on one’s overall well-being, encompassing satisfaction and comfortability of physical, psychosocial, sleep, and cognitive attributes. Clinical Question: How do adolescents diagnosed with sport-related concussion perceive changes in health-related quality of life domain measures throughout recovery? Summary of Key Findings: Four studies met the inclusion criteria, including 1 longitudinal prospective case series and 3 longitudinal prospective cohort studies. The literature indicated that adolescents who sustained an SRC reported an initial immediate decrease in overall HRQoL as well as domains including cognitive, physical, school, and sleep. This initial decrease was particularly notable in those with delayed recovery or those diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Despite the initial decrease, all participants of varying SRC recovery duration reportedly returned to healthy, normative levels of HRQoL upon recovery. Clinical Bottom Line: Adolescents reportedly experience initial decreases in various HRQoL domains immediately after SRC but appear to rebound to a healthy status upon recovery regardless of recovery duration. Strength of Recommendation: Results of the review of 4 longitudinal studies established level B evidence.

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More Physical Activity Is Correlated With Reduction in Kinesiophobia for Adolescents With Persistent Symptoms After Concussion

Katherine L. Smulligan, Mathew J. Wingerson, Corrine N. Seehusen, Casey C. Little, Julie C. Wilson, and David R. Howell

Context: The relationship between physical activity (PA) and fear of pain with movement (ie, kinesiophobia) during concussion recovery is unknown. Kinesiophobia may limit PA, while PA after concussion may reduce kinesiophobia. Our purpose was to examine the correlation between PA and self-reported kinesiophobia during concussion recovery for adolescents with and without persistent symptoms. Design: Prospective cohort study of children ages 10–18 years within 14 days of concussion. Methods: Participants rated kinesiophobia using the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia (TSK) at initial (≤14 d postconcussion) and return to play (RTP) assessments, and wore activity monitors between assessments. Our primary outcome was TSK score change from initial to RTP assessments. We grouped participants based on whether they experienced persistent symptoms (symptoms ≥28 days) or not (symptoms <28 days) and calculated correlation coefficients (Pearson r for normally distributed and Spearman rho for nonnormally distributed variables) between PA variables and TSK change scores. Results: Among the 41 participants enrolled, 44% developed persistent symptoms (n = 18; age = 14.5 [2.0] y; 50% female; symptom duration = 57.3 [6.2] d; RTP = 66.8 [6.4] d) and 56% did not (n = 23; age = 14.9 [1.8] y; 48% female; symptom duration = 15.2 [1.5] d; RTP = 21.7 [1.9] d). For the persistent symptoms group, greater TSK change scores (mean = −2.5 [5.7] point change) were significantly and moderately correlated with higher daily step count (r = −.60, P = .008) and exercise frequency (r = −.63, P = .005), but were not correlated with exercise duration (ρ = −.12, P = .65). Among the no persistent symptoms group, TSK change scores (mean = −6.0 [5.0] point change) were not correlated with step count (r = −.18, P = .41) or exercise duration (ρ = .10, P = .67), and the correlation with frequency was low and not significant (r = −.34, P = .12). Conclusions: Regular PA during concussion recovery, regardless of duration or intensity, may help reduce kinesiophobia for those experiencing persistent symptoms.