Background: Spinal manipulation is the primary therapy utilised by chiropractors in the management of their patients. The skills required may feel foreign to chiropractic students as they need strength and endurance in movement patterns they may not have otherwise been exposed to. This may lead to injury while learning manipulative techniques. It is plausible to suggest that the implementation of a strength and conditioning program early in a practitioner’s career could reduce the incidence and progression of injuries. The study aims to test the effectiveness of a strength and conditioning program in reducing the risk of chiropractic students’ acquiring injuries while learning the skill of spinal manipulation.
Methods: This study will involve a prospective cohort of chiropractic students who are currently learning manual therapy at an undergraduate level. Participants will be eligible for inclusion if they are enrolled in 3rd or 4th-year chiropractic manual therapy units at Murdoch University chiropractic course. The intervention group will follow a 12-week strength and conditioning program comprised of preventative exercises that address each body region previously identified as being prone to injury. The control group will complete a 12-week walking program. The primary outcome is injury rate, measured via a short questionnaire. The secondary outcome will be strength, measured via submaximal strength tests.
Discussion: The prescribed exercises are aimed at improving the strength and endurance of those muscle groups involved in commonly taught manual therapy tasks. The resistance bands have been chosen as they are inexpensive, simple to implement for the purposes of the study, and acceptably safe. A video format was selected to allow ease of access for participants, provide a detailed description and a visual representation of the exercises to be performed. A questionnaire was designed as a means to assess the influence of the strength and conditioning program on injury rate and the impact this may have on the students’ ability to continue practicing. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire has been chosen to measure the participants level of activity before beginning the exercise program.
Conclusion: This research protocol will be the first large-scale study to investigate the effectiveness of a strength and conditioning program to reduce injuries within chiropractic students learning manual therapy.
Author keywords: Prevention — Strength and conditioning — Chiropractic — Manual therapy — Injury
Author affiliations: CJH, BFW: School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia
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