Evaluating Research on Mobility of the Pelvis and Spine, and Why Fire Departments Should Test Range of Motion

Looking at the Research

Taniguchi, M., Tateuchi, H., Ibuki, S., & Ichihashi, N. (2017). Relative mobility of the pelvis and spine during trunk axial rotation in chronic low back pain patients: A case-control study. PloS one, 12(10), e0186369. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645112/ 

Taniguchi, Tateuchi, Ibuki, and Ichihashi (2017) explore the kinematic changes of the thorax, pelvis, and spine during movement in subject with and without chronic low back pain. The study was encouraged by the theory that trunk axial rotation could be a cause of chronic low back pain. The researchers gather 30 subjects, 15 healthy participants and 15 participants with CLBP and a history of playing recreational sport activities. Subjects were previously filtered by interview and series of tasks to acquire the subjects with CLBP. A motion analysis system collected data on the movement of the subjects as they performed maximum trunk rotation in a standing position (Taniguchi et al., 2017). Motion tasks that involve “trunk rotation increase the risk of low back pain by 1.51–2.28 times compared with subjects who do not perform trunk rotation (Taniguchi et al., 2017). The researchers analyzed the range-of-motion of transverse rotation and the spine/pelvis ratio as the participants complete the movement in the transverse plane. In regards to the motion of the thorax, there was no significant difference between the two test groups, although participants with chronic low back pain did demonstrate a drastic difference in the sagittal plane coupled with trunk rotation. Participants with chronic low back pain show an increase in anterior pelvic tilt, spine extension, and hyper rotational mobility of the spine in relation to healthy individuals (Taniguchi et al., 2017). 

Practical Application to Departments

Through examining the findings of Taniguchi et al. (2017), we can begin to organize testing protocols to examine our tactical athlete population and the risk factors for chronic low back pain. Since the study (Taniguchi et al., 2017) showed pelvic orientation, spine extension, and mobility concerns as risk factors, we could look at constructing efficient testing to monitor these areas. For instance, for the pelvic orientation and spine extension, specifically anterior pelvic tilt, we could do a postural assessment to examine any muscular or postural imbalances observed via glance. Mobility concerns would need to be examined and addressed via movement screens and range of motion testing. Simplicity of testing would depend on the presence of pain, budget of the individual or department, and testing protocol familiarity of the observer. Based on annual or frequent testing, corrective exercise prescriptions could be provided by qualified strength and conditioning specialists.

Written by Hussien Jabai

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