© Borgis - New Medicine 2/2011, s. 46-51
*Paweł Szulc, Joanna Boch-Kmieciak, Piotr Bartkowiak, Jacek Lewandowski
The impact of rugby training on the spinal functional parameters
University School of Physical Education in Poznań, Faculty of Functional Anatomy
Department Manager: Jacek Lewandowski, Prof. Ph.D.
Aim. The aim of the present paper was to determine the impact of many years of rugby training on the formation of spinal curvatures and spinal sectional mobility.
Material and methods. The research material constituted 20 rugby players of the Posnania Sports Club aged 20-25, and the control group of 20 students from the University School of Physical Education in Poznan aged 20-21. The results were also referred to the normative values. In both groups, the measurements of motion ranges of all the spinal sections in three planes, and the measurements of physiological curvatures were carried out using the Penny & Giles tensometric electrogoniometer.
Results. The significant limitations in the cervical spine concerned movements in sagital and transverse plane. The extension motion was limited by 17°, right-sided axial rotation by 29° and the left-sided by 32°.
Similarly, in the thoracic spine, significant mobility limitations occurred in the same planes, however the flexion motion was limited by 12° and axial rotation to both sides by 11°.
There was a statistically significant increase in angular values of spinal physiological curvatures among the rugby players by 10° on average.
Discussion. The obtained results indicate an increase in the angular values of physiological curvatures in rugby players and the limitation of mobility in the cervical and thoracic spine. Other authors indicate the flattening of spinal physiological curvatures. The discrepancies in the obtained study results indicate a more dynamic or static structure of the conducted rugby training.
Conclusions. Early introduction of the compensation exercises in rugby players may limit the unfavourable mobility changes within the functional spinal characteristics.
The mobility range in respective spinal sections in people is an eco-sensitive value. This means that the spine, through the impact of the development factors, becomes a unique sensor of changes to which the human body is subjected during the development (1). Besides the ontogenetic factors, the sectional spinal mobility is also affected by the pathologic processes and the specific physical activity during the training (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Just as in many other fields, the knowledge of spondylometric parameters is necessary for conducting and applying appropriate training methods. All the team sport games are based on the strictly specified character of sport struggle. It is closely related to the regulations and the nature of the discipline. Taking this into account, rugby may be included in the contact sports (8, 7, 4, 9). The literature on the subject related to the impact of sport training on the functional spinal parameters is not presented in the scientific publications to a great extent (2, 5, 6) On the other hand, there are numerous reports on the motor organ ailments caused by sport training and relevant treatment methods (3, 4, 9). Any changes in spinal functional parameters impact greatly the occurrence of the motor apparatus ailments related to its overburdening (10). Changing functional parameters of the spine result in further consequences in the form of disturbances in the biokinematic chain mechanisms (10). The rugby training influences the strain of the cervical and lumbar spine significantly, as a consequence of positions applied during the game. Above all, this refers to the attack formation player and the jumper during his landing on one leg (6, 11). On top of this, the weight-bearing exercises are a significant component of the training process, leading to the development of muscular mass, causing functional changes within the spine (2). The changes may have a negative impact on the anatomic structures of the spine in individuals practicing rugby (6, 11, 12, 13 ).
Aim of the study
The aim of this paper is to determine the impact of many years of rugby training on the formation of physiological curvatures and sectional spinal mobility.
Material and methods
The research material covered 20 players aged 20-25, whose mean age was 22 years – practicing rugby at the Posnania Sports Club, with the training experience of minimum 5 years. The average training experience of the players was 6 years.
The control group consisted of 20 students of the E. Piasecki University School of Physical Education in Poznan aged 20-21. In order to perform the tests, the consent of the Bioethical Committee was obtained. The results of the conducted studies were referred to the normative values for the same age group presented by Lewandowski (14).
The motion ranges of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine and the angular values of its physiological curvatures were measured five times in both groups.
The tests were performed in a room with a stable temperature of 22°-24°C for all the players and the control group, at the same time of the day, during the days which were free of training and physical exercises. No warm-up was performed, before proceeding to the tests. The mean from five measurements for each value constituted the measuring result.
The tests were performed using the electrogoniometric measuring system of the Penny & Giles company (according to Lewandowski’s methodology) in the Boocock’s modification (14, 15). This modification eliminates measuring errors related to the movement of skin and soft tissues in relation to the bones (fig. 1). The electrogoniometric sensors were fixed to the body with a two-sided medical tape. The measurement constituted growth of the joint angle. The starting position for the test was the upright standing position with limbs arranged along the torso and head in the Frankfurt plane (fig. 2).
Fig. 1. Penny & Giles electrogoniometric measuring set.
Fig. 2 . The method of fixing the electrogoniometric sensor for the measurement of physiological curvatures and sectional mobility of the spine.
Obtained results of electrogoniometric tests were elaborated by means of the commonly used statistical methods, calculating the arithmetic means, standard deviation X, minimums and maximums. The material distribution was assessed with the use of Shapiro-Wilk test. Due to the absence of the normal material distribution, the non-parametric U Mann-Whitney test was used for determining the significance of differences between the angular values of physiological curvatures and the sectional spinal mobility of the group practicing rugby and the control group.
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