An investigation to identify changes in power of the kayaking stroke following manipulation of the cervical spine in asymptomatic kayakers
Cuninghame, Neil Mark
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Although kayaking is an Olympic sport and said to be one of the top ten growth sports in America, relatively little literature has been written on it by sports scientists and there is a paucity of available literature. Previous research has described the effects of spinal manipulation on muscles at distant sites to the joint being manipulated, and there have been trends which have shown a positive increase in strength and in muscle activity at these sites. There has, however, been a lack of literature to show that these positive trends would influence sporting performance in any way. 30 volunteer kayakers, who train and compete on a regular basis, were actively recruited and randomly allocated into one of three groups. Group 1 received manipulation on a fixated cervical segment, group 2 on a non-fixated cervical spine segment, and group 3 received placebo laser to the posterior cervical area. Subjects were then required to complete two 200m sprint tests on a kayak ergometer. Measurements were taken pre and post manipulation and included maximum watts recorded for the duration of the sprint test and time taken to complete 200m. Although no statistically significant results were found between the groups, trends revealed that in group 1, which received spinal manipulation on a fixated joint, there was an increase in the mean peak watts post manipulation, as compared to the placebo and non-fixated groups which showed a decrease in peak watts post manipulation. Group 1 also demonstrated a mean decrease in time taken to complete the second 200m sprint test. Group 2 and 3 again showed an increase in time taken to complete the second sprint test post manipulation. iv It is, therefore, concluded that manipulation of a fixated cervical joint in asymptomatic kayakers results in an increase in performance, although it must be noted that these were only trends and that there was no statistical significance in these results. This research has, furthermore, opened the door to future studies which may test the performance enhancing benefits of competitive sports such as kayaking.