The immediate effect of spinal manipulative therapy on drag flicking performance of field hockey players
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Background In sport, competitive athletes are required to perform to the best of their ability, with some athletes seeking the use of chiropractic treatment to improve performance. For example, hockey players are required to perform at peak physical function whilst executing a drag flick. The action of a drag flick involves a player hunched over low down in front of the ball and the hook of the hockey stick makes contact with the ball, which is then ball is pushed along the ground with the ball moving slightly up the shaft of the stick. The player then performs ‘slinging’ action, which means they ‘flick’ the ball towards the goal posts. The drag flick is an explosive sequential movement involving the player’s pelvis, trunk and upper limbs, requiring the use of the spine to generate the speed of the stick and ball. As a result any decreased spinal movement could reduce performance. Therefore this study attempted to assess the use of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) in improving the drag flicking performance of hockey players. SMT has been shown to be a safe and effective way of increasing spinal joint mobility Objectives To determine and compare the effect of placebo and spinal manipulative therapy in terms of subjective and objective measurements on drag flicking performance of premier league field hockey players. Methods A comparative, experimental study of forty asymptomatic premier league hockey drag flickers were divided into two groups of twenty each. Group A received SMT of fixated joints of the spine (cervical, thoracic and lumbar) as determined by motion palpation by an experienced qualified chiropractor. Group B received sham manipulation. Pre and post intervention ROM of the spine and drag flicking speed where measured using CROM, Inclinometer, BROM II and Speed TracX Speed Sport Radar. The subject’s perception of a change in drag flicking speed post intervention was also recorded. SPSS version 21 was used to analyse the data. A p value of 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results Significant differences in ROM were noticed in the inter-group analysis in cervical: extension; LLF; RR PA, thoracic: extension; LLF, RLF, lumbar: extension, LLF, RLF. There was a significant increase in drag flicking speed post SMT, but between the SMT and sham manipulation groups were not significantly different. A significant correlation was seen between subjects’ perception of change in drag flicking speed post intervention and the objective results obtained. Conclusion The immediate effect of SMT on drag flicking performance of hockey players was inconclusive. The outcomes of this study suggests that SMT results in an increase in the average speed of drag flicking, however further larger studies are required to confirm this.