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19-12-2011 | Article

Athletic performance could be improved by cervical spine manipulative therapy


Free abstract

MedWire News: Results of a study in elite judo athletes suggest that cervical spine manipulative therapy (SMT) could be used to improve athletic performance.

"Spinal manipulative therapy is growing in sports treatment, and when performed by a highly trained professional, it can serve as a useful therapeutic option for the treatment of joint biomechanical dysfunctions, especially of the spine," say Marcelo Botelho (Private Practice, Salvador, Brazil) and Bruno Andrade (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA).

However, this technique has primarily been used with therapeutic aims, they say, and it is unknown whether it can be used as a potential sports performance enhancer.

Writing in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics the researchers explain that judo is an "intense martial art sport that can potentially cause injuries that may result in loss of strength, which is detrimental to sports performance."

The team therefore evaluated the effects of cervical SMT on grip force among 18 judo athletes who were competing at a national level. The athletes were randomly assigned to two treatment groups: chiropractic SMT or a standardized sham intervention.

The SMT intervention consisted of static and motion cervical joints analysis, with the patient lying in a supine position. Areas of motion restriction received specific contact high-velocity, low-amplitude manipulation consisting of standard chiropractic diversified techniques to the cervical spine.

Three therapy sessions were performed in each group with a minimum 36-hour and maximum 3-week period between sessions.

Grip strength measures on the left and right side were assessed in all athletes immediately before and at least 20 seconds after each intervention using a hydraulic dynamometer.

Analysis of the SMT group revealed a statistically significant increase in grip strength in both hands after the first intervention (mean increase of 6.95% in the right hand and 12.61% in the left). Overall, after all three interventions, mean grip strength increased by 10.53% on the right side and 16.81 on the left.

By contrast, no statistically significant differences were found in grip strength within the sham group.

The authors conclude: "It is important to do similar studies in larger judo athlete samples and in other high-performance level athletes of different sports, trying to observe if SMT can also have a positive influence on performance in other modalities."

By Nikki Withers