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"Sport Medicine Journal" No.33 - 2013
ARTICLE – abstract

Assessment and determinants of lumbar flexibility in athlete and non-athlete university undergraduates

Adebimpe O. Obembe, Chidozie E. Mbada, Oluwagbenga E. Ogunbowale
Department of Medical Rehabilitation, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife, Nigeria


Introduction. Reference database for lumbar spine range of motion (ROM) may serve as rehabilitation outcome tool and also help to recognize decreased spinal ROM that may impede sport participation and performance in athletes. This study aimed to establish normative values and determinants of lumbar spinal ROM in athletes and non-athletes undergraduates.
Materials and Methods. 240 (120 athletes and 120 non-athletes) university undergraduates whose ages ranged between 18 and 37 years volunteered for the study. The athlete group were recruited from the judo, taekwondo, football and basketball teams of the university. Dual inclinometric technique was used to measure spinal ROM in forward flexion (FF), extension (Ext), right lateral flexion (RLF) and left lateral flexion (LLF). Data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics at 0.05 alpha level. Results. The athletes and non-athletes were comparable in age (p=0.787). The mean value for FF, Ext, RLF and LLF was 49.4+11.3˚, 19.8+9.51˚, 18.0+10.8˚ for athletes and 17.7+5.25˚; and 40.7+13.12˚, 15.7+8.04˚, 18.3+7.26˚ and 15.5+5.17˚ for non-athletes respectively. Athletes had significantly higher FF, Ext and LLF (p<0.05). Spinal ROMs were higher among female athletes and non-athletes compared with their male counterparts (p<0.05). There was a significant difference in FF (p=0.009) and LLF (p=0.010) among the different sport types.  Significant correlations were found between limb length and each of FF (r = -0.338, p = 0.001) and Ext (r = -0.248, p = 0.006) among athletes, while there was a significant correlation between FF and body weight (r = 0.605, p = 0.040) among non-athletes.
Conclusion. Lumbar spine flexibility was significantly greater in athletes than non-athletes. Both athlete and non-athlete females had higher lumbar spine flexibility than their male counterparts. Degree of forward and left lateral flexion seems to have sport-specific propensity. Limb length and body weight were determinants of lumbar spine flexibility. 

Key words:

athletes, dual inclinometer, non-athletes, normative data, spinal flexibility.

Full article:

Assessment and determinants of lumbar flexibility in athlete and non-athlete university undergraduates

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