Injury risk in technique selection: influence of hand position in the back handspring.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The back handspring is a fundamental skill for female artistic gymnasts. Wrist injuries from tumbling movements are common in recreational and elite gymnasts (Farana et al., 2015). Coaches often face the challenge of determining which individual technique will suit the gymnast, reduce injury potential and optimise performance making the sport safer, more efficient and effective. The aim of this research was to examine the influence of hand position on the biomechanical risk factors at the wrist during the back handspring. The overall purpose was to gain an insight into injury risk at the wrist joint, offering valuable information for athletes, coaches and clinicians. After University ethical approval and participant informed consent, three national level female artistic gymnasts completed five trials of hurdle step round-off to back handspring with “inward”, “parallel” and “outward” hand positions. 13 opto-electric cameras (250Hz) were synchronised with and two piezo-electric force plates (1000Hz) providing three dimensional kinematics and kinetic data. Inverse dynamics analysis was used to calculate internal wrist joint kinetics. All analyses centered on the ground contact phase of both hands. Differences between limbs in discrete variables (joint kinematics, kinetics and external forces) were analysed using an independent t-test. A one-way ANOVA examined differences between techniques within each performer; alpha level was set at P≤0.05. The initial observations highlighted a large level of between subject variability for all ground reaction force data. Maximum wrist flexion was significantly higher in the “inward” technique for two of the three gymnasts (P≤0.05). In addition, vertical wrist joint force and flexion moment were significantly higher in parallel and outward techniques for two of the three gymnasts (P≤0.05). All participants showed significantly higher internal wrist moments in the “outward” and “parallel” techniques (P≤0.05). The within gymnast self-organisation to perform these skills is evident with the high level of the between subject variability. The findings highlight two techniques that may predispose the performer to injury risk conditions, parallel and outward. The former is more commonly used to teach the back handspring and as such this information would be useful to coaches and clinicians. The findings align with current coaching recommendations in terms of the outward version, suggesting potentially higher injury risk at the wrist complex with this technique. Knowledge of iii the internal joint kinetics and kinematics has increased understanding of the underpinning biomechanics of these skills. This study has added knowledge of the risk potential of certain techniques, highlighting the need to increase knowledge of technique selection within the sport of gymnastics. Future studies should examine issues such as variability, coordination and the influence of other upper limb joints.
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