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Andrew A. Dingley, David B. Pyne and Brendan Burkett

Disabilities in Paralympic swimming could impact a swimmer’s ability to execute an effective swim-start. We examined how swim-start performance differed between severity and type of physical disability. Swim-starts were measured in 55 elite Paralympic swimmers from eight different Paralympic classes; S14, S13, S10-S6, S3 grouped as no- (classes S13 & S14), low- (S9 & S10), mid- (S7 & S8) or high- (≤ S6) severity of physical disability and also by type of physical disability (upper, lower, and palsy) to provide meaningful comparisons. The swimmer’s competitive level was determined by the international point score (IPS). Swimmers with no physical disability were significantly faster in most swim-start phases compared with those with physical disabilities, as were swimmers with low-severity disabilities compared with the mid- and high-severity groups. Block velocity was highly negatively correlated (r = –0.57 to –0.86) with 15-m swimming time for all groups except high-severity disabilities. Free-swim velocity is a priority area for improving swim-starts for swimmers regardless of disability, given large correlations between this measure and IPS. Swimmers with lower body or high-severity disabilities spent a smaller percentage of time overall in the underwater phase. Assessment of four specific phases of the swim-start highlight distinctive priorities for coaches working with Paralympic swimmers in an applied biomechanical manner.

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Max C. Stuelcken, René E.D. Ferdinands and Peter J. Sinclair

This study aimed to investigate the bowling techniques of female fast bowlers and identify any association between a history of low back pain (LBP) and the movement patterns of the thorax relative to the pelvis during the delivery stride of the bowling action. Three-dimensional kinematic data were collected from 26 elite Australian female fast bowlers using an eight-camera Vicon motion analysis system. Nineteen bowlers used a mixed action, 6 bowlers used a semiopen action, and 1 bowler used a side-on action. Fourteen bowlers had a history of LBP. Eight of these 14 bowlers used a mixed action, and bowlers with more shoulder counterrotation were no more likely to have a history of LBP. Bowlers with a history of LBP positioned the thorax in more left lateral flexion relative to the pelvis between 73–79% of the delivery stride, and moved the thorax through a significantly greater range of lateral flexion relative to the pelvis during the delivery stride compared with bowlers with no history of LBP. This information will give coaches and support staff a better understanding of female bowling technique and may facilitate better screening practices for elite female cricketers.

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Caroline Barelle, Anne Ruby and Michel Tavernier

Aerodynamic properties are one of the factors that determine speed performance in Alpine skiing. Many studies have examined the consequences of this factor in downhill skiing, and the impact of postural modifications on speed is now well established. To date, only wind tunnel tests have enabled one to measure aerodynamic drag values (a major component of the aerodynamic force in Alpine skiing). Yet such tests are incompatible with the constraints of a regular and accurate follow-up of training programs. The present study proposes an experimental model that permits one to determine a skier's aerodynamic drag coefficient (SCx) based on posture. Experimental SCx measurements made in a wind tunnel are matched with the skier's postural parameters. The accuracy of the model was determined by comparing calculated drag values with measurements observed in a wind tunnel for different postures. For postures corresponding to an optimal aerodynamic penetration (speed position), the uncertainty was 13%. Although this model does not permit an accurate comparison between two skiers, it does satisfactorily account for variations observed in the aerodynamic drag of the same skier in different postures. During Alpine ski training sessions and races, this model may help coaches assess the gain or loss in time induced by modifications in aerodynamic drag corresponding to different postures. It may also be used in other sports to help determine whether the aerodynamic force has a significant impact on performance.

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Pascal Schütz, Renate List, Roland Zemp, Florian Schellenberg, William R. Taylor and Silvio Lorenzetti

The aim of this study was to quantify how step length and the front tibia angle influence joint angles and loading conditions during the split squat exercise. Eleven subjects performed split squats with an additional load of 25% body weight applied using a barbell. Each subject’s movements were recorded using a motion capture system, and the ground reaction force was measured under each foot. The joint angles and loading conditions were calculated using a cluster-based kinematic approach and inverse dynamics modeling respectively. Increases in the tibia angle resulted in a smaller range of motion (ROM) of the front knee and a larger ROM of the rear knee and hip. The external flexion moment in the front knee/hip and the external extension moment in the rear hip decreased as the tibia angle increased. The flexion moment in the rear knee increased as the tibia angle increased. The load distribution between the legs changed < 25% when split squat execution was varied. Our results describing the changes in joint angles and the resulting differences in the moments of the knee and hip will allow coaches and therapists to adapt the split squat exercise to the individual motion and load demands of athletes.

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Jaebin Shim, Deanna H. Smith and Bonnie L. Van Lunen

Clinical Scenario:

Over the past decade, sport-related concussions have received increased attention due to their frequency and severity over a wide range of athletics. Clinicians have developed return-to-play protocols to better manage concussions in young athletes; however, a standardized process projecting the length of recovery time after concussion has remained an elusive piece of the puzzle. The recovery times associated with such an injury once diagnosed can last anywhere from 1 wk to several months. Risk factors that could lead to protracted recovery times include a history of 1 or multiple concussions and a greater number, severity, and duration of symptoms after the injury. Examining the possible relationship between on-field or sideline signs and symptoms and recovery times would give clinicians the confident ability to properly treat and manage an athlete’s recovery process in a more systematic manner. Furthermore, identifying factors after a head injury that may be predictive of protracted recovery times would be useful for athletes, parents, and coaches alike.

Focused Clinical Question:

Which on-field and sideline signs and symptoms affect length of recovery after concussion in high school and college athletes?

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Paige Guild, Monica R. Lininger and Meghan Warren

Clinical Scenario: Female college student-athletes (SA) often experience time loss from musculoskeletal injuries to the lower extremities. This can lead to lengthy rehabilitation, expensive medical bills, and declines in health-related quality of life. Identifying at-risk athletes prior to the start of an athletic season may allow coaches or athletic trainers to prescribe an injury prevention program. Clinical Question: In female college SA, are preseason single leg hop (SLH) scores associated with identifying those at risk for lower-extremity musculoskeletal injuries? Summary of Key Findings: Five prospective cohort studies in female SA scored athletes on the SLH prior to the start of the athletic sport season. One of 5 studies found an association of SLH with injury risk. An additional 2 studies found that the SLH as part of a battery of functional performance tests was associated with injury risk in some anatomic locations (eg, thigh/knee), but not overall injury risk. Clinical Bottom Line: Methodological limitations of the reviewed studies limits a final conclusion, and there is insufficient evidence to determine if the SLH should be used as a sole functional performance test to identify at-risk female SA; it may be useful as part of a battery of functional performance tests for female college SA. Strength of Recommendation: All studies were prospective cohort studies (level 3).

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H. Galbraith, J. Scurr, C. Hencken, L. Wood and P. Graham-Smith

This study compared the conventional track and a new one-handed track start in elite age group swimmers to determine if the new technique had biomechanical implications on dive performance. Five male and seven female GB national qualifiers participated (mean ± SD: age 16.7 ± 1.9 years, stretched stature 1.76 ± 0.8 m, body mass 67.4 ± 7.9 kg) and were assigned to a control group (n = 6) or an intervention group (n = 6) that learned the new one-handed dive technique. All swimmers underwent a 4-week intervention comprising 12 ± 3 thirty-minute training sessions. Video cameras synchronized with an audible signal and timing suite captured temporal and kinematic data. A portable force plate and load cell handrail mounted to a swim starting block collected force data over 3 trials of each technique. A MANCOVA identified Block Time (BT), Flight Time (FT), Peak Horizontal Force of the lower limbs (PHF) and Horizontal Velocity at Take-off (Vx) as covariates. During the 10-m swim trial, significant differences were found in Time to 10 m (TT10m), Total Time (TT), Peak Vertical Force (PVF), Flight Distance (FD), and Horizontal Velocity at Take-off (Vx) (p < .05). Results indicated that the conventional track start method was faster over 10 m, and therefore may be seen as a superior start after a short intervention. During training, swimmers and coaches should focus on the most statistically significant dive performance variables: peak horizontal force and velocity at take-off, block and flight time.

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Robert Norman, Sylvia Ounpuu, Margo Fraser and Ronald Mitchell

This paper explores whether there may be useful information in estimates of metabolic rates obtained from biomechanical calculations of mechanical power output. Thirteen men were analyzed as they passed a camera on each of three laps on an 11.8° uphill in the 30-km classical technique Olympic Nordic ski event. A 15-segment model was constructed; velocity, stride length, stride rate, mechanical power output, and from this latter measure an estimate of oxygen consumption, were obtained. The average lap velocity was 5.65 m•s−1 (20 km•hr−1), the film site velocity was 2.58 m•s−1, and the correlation between them was 0.75. There were no significant differences from lap to lap in any variable, nor were there dramatic differences between the skiers in the top 14 compared with those finishing in 35th place or slower in stride length or stride rate. However, the faster skiers had estimated VO2 from 80 to 112 ml•kg−1 • min−1 on most laps while the slower skiers had values from 53 to 77. If a VO2 estimated from biomechanical data can ultimately be shown to be accurate, a rather useful tool may have been identified for coaches, athletes, and sport scientists that can be used during competition in endurance events.

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Steven W. Barrentine, Tomoyuki Matsuo, Rafael F. Escamilla, Glenn S. Fleisig and James R. Andrews

Previous researchers studying baseball pitching have compared kinematic and kinetic parameters among different types of pitches, focusing on the trunk, shoulder, and elbow. The lack of data on the wrist and forearm limits the understanding of clinicians, coaches, and researchers regarding the mechanics of baseball pitching and the differences among types of pitches. The purpose of this study was to expand existing knowledge of baseball pitching by quantifying and comparing kinematic data of the wrist and forearm for the fastball (FA), curveball (CU) and change-up (CH) pitches. Kinematic and temporal parameters were determined from 8 collegiate pitchers recorded with a four-camera system (200 Hz). Although significant differences were observed for all pitch comparisons, the least number of differences occurred between the FA and CH. During arm cocking, peak wrist extension for the FA and CH pitches was greater than for the CU, while forearm supination was greater for the CU. In contrast to the current study, previous comparisons of kinematic data for trunk, shoulder, and elbow revealed similarities between the FA and CU pitches and differences between the FA and CH pitches. Kinematic differences among pitches depend on the segment of the body studied.

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E. Randy Eichner

Sickle cell trait can pose a grave risk for some athletes. In the past few years, exertional sickling has killed nine athletes, including five college football players in training. Exercise-physiology research shows how and why sickle red cells can accumulate in the bloodstream during intense exercise bouts. Sickle cells can “logjam” blood vessels and lead to collapse from ischemic rhabdomyolysis. Diverse clinical and metabolic problems from explosive rhabdomyolysis can threaten life. Sickling can begin in 2-3 minutes of any all-out exertion, or during sustained intense exertion – and can reach grave levels very soon thereafter if the athlete struggles on or is urged on by coaches despite warning signs. Heat, dehydration, altitude, and asthma can increase the risk for and worsen sickling. This exertional sickling syndrome, however, is unique and in the field can be distinguished from heat illnesses. Sickling collapse is a medical emergency. Fortunately, screening and precautions can prevent sickling collapse and enable sickle-trait athletes to thrive in their sports.