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James W. Youdas, Hannah E. Baartman, Brian J. Gahlon, Tyler J. Kohnen, Robert J. Sparling and John H. Hollman

exerciser’s body mass from a hovering position. 3 Such devices are thought to provide a more challenging training stimulus than traditional, stable weight-bearing surfaces. Suspension training systems may create larger demands for stabilization from muscles of the extremities and torso and thus elicit

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Tanghuizi Du, Ikumi Narita and Toshimasa Yanai

Low back pain is a common problem among competitive swimmers, and repeated torso hyperextension is claimed to be an etiological factor. The purpose of this study was to describe the three-dimensional torso configurations in the front crawl stroke and to test the hypothesis that swimmers experience torso hyperextension consistently across the stroke cycles. Nineteen collegiate swimmers underwent 2 measurements: a measurement of the active range of motion in 3 dimensions and a measurement of tethered front crawl stroke at their maximal effort. Torso extension beyond the active range of torso motion was defined as torso hyperextension. The largest torso extension angle exhibited during the stroke cycles was 9 ± 11° and it was recorded at or around 0.02 ± 0.08 s, the instant at which the torso attained the largest twist angle. No participant hyperextended the torso consistently across the stroke cycles and subjects exhibited torso extension angles during tethered front crawl swimming that were much less than their active range of motion. Therefore, our hypothesis was rejected, and the data suggest that repeated torso hyperextension during front crawl strokes should not be claimed to be the major cause of the high incidence of low back pain in swimmers.

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David F. Stodden, Glenn S. Fleisig, Scott P. McLean, Stephen L. Lyman and James R. Andrews

Generating consistent maximum ball velocity is an important factor for a baseball pitcher’s success. While previous investigations have focused on the role of the upper and lower extremities, little attention has been given to the trunk. In this study it was hypothesized that variations in pelvis and upper torso kinematics within individual pitchers would be significantly associated with variations in pitched ball velocity. Nineteen elite baseball pitchers were analyzed using 3-D high-speed motion analysis. For inclusion in this study, each pitcher demonstrated a variation in ball velocity of at least 1.8 m/s (range: 1.8–3.5 m/s) during his 10 fastball pitch trials. A mixed-model analysis was used to determine the relationship between 12 pelvis and upper torso kinematic variables and pitched ball velocity. Results indicated that five variables were associated with variations in ball velocity within individual pitchers: pelvis orientation at maximum external rotation of the throwing shoulder (p = .026), pelvis orientation at ball release (p = .044), upper torso orientation at maximum external rotation of the throwing shoulder (p = .007), average pelvis velocity during arm cocking (p = .024), and average upper torso velocity during arm acceleration (p = .035). As ball velocity increased, pitchers showed an increase in pelvis orientation and upper torso orientation at the instant of maximal external rotation of the throwing shoulder. In addition, average pelvis velocity during arm cocking and average upper torso velocity during arm acceleration increased as ball velocity increased. From a practical perspective, the athlete should be coached to strive for proper trunk rotation during arm cocking as well as strength and flexibility in order to generate angular velocity within the trunk for maximum ball velocity.

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Bart Van Gheluwe, Paul Huybrechts and Erik Deporte

This study evaluates the action of 20 selected arm and torso muscles. The subjects were 19 windsurfers of different skill levels. Muscular activity was recorded electromyographically, using surface electrodes. The subjects were standing on a specially devised windsurf simulator in order to keep the different surf postures as standardized as possible. Through two-way ANOVA techniques, the electromyographic activity relative to its maximal isometric value was compared for different muscles, surf postures, and skill levels. Also, differences between the left and right sides of the body were investigated. From the results, the following may be concluded: (a) As all muscles display rather low activity (an average of less than 20% of their maximal isometric values), windsurfing does not seem very demanding of muscular force. (b) The M. flexor carpi radialis, together with the M. erector spinae, tend to exhibit higher levels of activity for beginners, which suggests, respectively, a more rigid grip on the wishbone and stronger low back muscle activation in order to keep a correct posture, (c) Left–right asymmetries mainly occur for symmetrical body postures, especially for the M. flexor carpi radialis and the M. erector spinae. As for the M. trapezius (pars superior), experienced surfers tend to display a dominant right asymmetry, (d) Muscle activity does not exhibit significantly different values for various surf postures. However, typical deviating postures, as observed in beginners, may induce higher levels of muscle activation.

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Venkata K. Gade and Sara E. Wilson

Proprioception plays an important role in appropriate sensation of spine position, movement, and stability. Previous research has demonstrated that position sense error in the lumbar spine is increased in flexed postures. This study investigated the change in position sense as a function of altered trunk flexion and moment loading independently. Reposition sense of lumbar angle in 17 subjects was assessed. Subjects were trained to assume specified lumbar angles using visual feedback. The ability of the subjects to reproduce this curvature without feedback was then assessed. This procedure was repeated for different torso flexion and moment loading conditions. These measurements demonstrated that position sense error increased significantly with the trunk flexion (40%, p < .05) but did not increase with moment load (p = .13). This increased error with flexion suggests a loss in the ability to appropriately sense and therefore control lumbar posture in flexed tasks. This loss in proprioceptive sense could lead to more variable lifting coordination and a loss in dynamic stability that could increase low back injury risk. This research suggests that it is advisable to avoid work in flexed postures.

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Rebecca J. Giorcelli, Richard E. Hughes, Richard S. Current and John R. Myers

This paper describes a procedure developed and validated to assess the accuracy of an infrared-based motion measurement system used to perform a kinematic analysis of the torso with respect to the pelvis during simulated lifting tasks. Two rigid reflective marker triads were designed and fabricated for attachment to the thorax over the 6th thoracic vertebra and the pelvis. System accuracy was assessed for planar rotation as well as rotations about multiple orthogonal axes. A test fixture was used to validate known triad orientations. The spatial coordinates of these triads were collected at 120 Hz using a ProReflex motion measurement system. Single value decomposition was used to estimate a rotation matrix describing the rigid body motion of the thorax triad relative to the sacral triad at each point in time. Euler angles corresponding to flexion, lateral bending, and twisting were computed from the rotation matrix. All measurement error residuals for flexion, lateral bending, and twisting were below 1.75°. The estimated mean measurement errors were less than 1° in all three planes. These results suggest that the motion measurement system is reliable and accurate to within approximately 1.5° for the angles examined.

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Ricky Watari, Blayne Hettinga, Sean Osis and Reed Ferber

The purpose of this study was to validate measures of vertical oscillation (VO) and ground contact time (GCT) derived from a commercially-available, torso-mounted accelerometer compared with single marker kinematics and kinetic ground reaction force (GRF) data. Twenty-two semi-elite runners ran on an instrumented treadmill while GRF data (1000 Hz) and three-dimensional kinematics (200 Hz) were collected for 60 s across 5 different running speeds ranging from 2.7 to 3.9 m/s. Measurement agreement was assessed by Bland-Altman plots with 95% limits of agreement and by concordance correlation coefficient (CCC). The accelerometer had excellent CCC agreement (> 0.97) with marker kinematics, but only moderate agreement, and overestimated measures between 16.27 mm to 17.56 mm compared with GRF VO measures. The GCT measures from the accelerometer had very good CCC agreement with GRF data, with less than 6 ms of mean bias at higher speeds. These results indicate a torsomounted accelerometer provides valid and accurate measures of torso-segment VO, but both a marker placed on the torso and the accelerometer yield systematic overestimations of center of mass VO. Measures of GCT from the accelerometer are valid when compared with GRF data, particularly at faster running speeds.

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Priyanka Banerjee, Stephen H.M Brown, Samuel J. Howarth and Stuart M. McGill

The ProFitter 3-D Cross Trainer is a labile surface device used in the clinic and claimed to train spine stability. The purpose of this study was to quantify the spine mechanics (compression and shear forces and stability), together with muscle activation mechanics (surface electromyography) of the torso and hip, during three ProFitter exercises. Trunk muscle activity was relatively low while exercising on the device (<25%MVC). Gluteus medius activity was phasic with the horizontal sliding position, especially for an experienced participant. Sufficient spinal stability was achieved in all three exercise conditions. Peak spinal compression values were below 3400 N (maximum 3188 N) and peak shear values were correspondingly low (under 500 N). The exercises challenge whole-body dynamic balance while producing very conservative spine loads. The motion simultaneously integrates hip and torso muscles in a way that appears to ensure stabilizing motor patterns in the spine. This information will assist with clinical decision making about the utility of the device and exercise technique in rehabilitation and training programs.

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Charles Boyer, Mark Tremblay, Travis Saunders, Allison McFarlane, Michael Borghese, Meghann Lloyd and Pat Longmuir

This project examined the feasibility, validity, and reliability of the plank isometric hold for children 8–12 years of age. 1502 children (52.5% female) performed partial curl-up and/or plank protocols to assess plank feasibility (n = 823, 52.1% girls), validity (n = 641, 54.1% girls) and reliability (n = 111, 47.8% girls). 12% (n = 52/431) of children could not perform a partial curl-up, but virtually all children (n = 1066/1084) could attain a nonzero score for the plank. Plank performance without time limit was influenced by small effects with age (β = 6.86; p < .001, η2 = 0.03), flexibility (β = 0.79; p < .001, η2 = 0.03), and medium effects with cardiovascular endurance (β = 1.07; p < .001, η2 = 0.08), and waist circumference (β = −0.92; p < .001, η2 = 0.06). Interrater (ICC = 0.62; CI = 0.50, 0.75), intrarater (ICC = 0.83; CI = 0.73, 0.90) and test-retest (ICC = 0.63; CI = 0.46, 0.75) reliability were acceptable for the plank without time limit. These data suggest the plank without time limit is a feasible, valid and reliable assessment of torso muscular endurance for children 8–12 years of age.

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Nicole Kahle and Michael A. Tevald

To determine the effect of core muscle strengthening on balance in community-dwelling older adults, 24 healthy men and women between 65 and 85 years old were randomized to either exercise (EX; n = 12) or control (CON; n = 12) groups. The exercise group performed a core strengthening home exercise program thrice weekly for 6 wk. Core muscle (curl-up test), functional reach (FR) and Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) were assessed at baseline and follow-up. There were no group differences at baseline. At follow-up, EX exhibited significantly greater improvements in curl-up (Cohen’s d = 4.4), FR (1.3), and SEBT (>1.9 for all directions) than CON. The change in curl-up was significantly correlated with the change in FR (r = .44, p = .03) and SEBT (r > .61, p ≤ .002). These results suggest that core strengthening should be part of a comprehensive balance-training program for older adults.