Journal of Sports Sciences vol:29 issue:10 pages:1089-96
In most Paralympic wheelchair sports, active trunk range of movement is assessed by observing shoulder girdle excursion during active trunk movements and is a key determinant of an athlete's class. However, to date research evaluating the impact of reduced trunk range of movement on wheelchair sports performance has not been conducted. In the present study, 15 non-disabled male participants performed two 20-s sprints on a wheelchair ergometer in each of three seating positions. Positions were typical of those used to enhance sitting stability in wheelchair sport and each impacted available trunk range of movement differently: condition-90 (seated with thighs horizontal; unrestricted range of movement) condition-45 (seated with thighs in 45°), and condition-0 (seated with hips maximally flexed; minimum range of movement). In condition-90, the trunk only actively contributed to the first push; for the remainder of the sprint, the trunk was held almost isometrically at 48.2° to the horizontal (range 42.1-56.4°). Similar patterns were observed for both condition-45 and condition-0. Compared with condition-90, participants in condition-0 had reduced capacity to accelerate of statistical (P < 0.05) and practical significance. These findings are an important initial step towards evidence-based decision making in classification. Future research should evaluate the individual and collective impact of other factors that affect the trunk's contribution to wheelchair sports performance, including strapping, seating position, and impairments of trunk muscle power and coordination.