Enhance Your Spinal Assessment With The MAT

assessment Feb 16, 2018

Why Is Spinal Flexibility Important?

Our spine is made up of 3 sections (Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar vertebrae) with the sacrum and coccyx forming part of the tailbone. Each area is individualized in the way it moves, for example, the Lumbar Vertebrae are biased to perform flexion and extension movements, whereas the Thoracic Vertebrae's orientation allows for more rotation.

Each segment throughout all 3 areas rotates/flexes/extends and laterally flexes a few degrees, but as a total, there is a great deal of range of motion available through the spine. Along with these movements occurring at the spine, we also have movements below and above the spine that directly affect the range of motion available, an example of this is the hips, knee and ankle joint in many upright tasks will have to work alongside spinal movements to coordinate the overall action.

Spinal assessment is important in a clinical setting because having restrictions through our trunk or extremities means that another region above or below may take up the slack which in some cases isn’t beneficial, potentially leading to sudden or repetitive stress. Spinal assessment is done in a weight-bearing position (standing) so that we can see how which section of the body moves/doesn’t move when it should.

What Does The Research Say About Spinal Range Of Motion

  • “Range-of-motion deficits in the lead hip rotation and lumbar spine extension correlated with a history of low back pain in golfers” (Vad. V,  Bhat. A,  Basrai. D, Gebeh. A, Aspergren. D and  Andrews. J,  2004). Along with golfers having lower back pain we also see athletes involved in throwing sports needing to use rotation through their thoracics (mid-back).
  • “Trunk rotation is not only a medium to transfer energy from lower extremities to upper extremities but also can be utilized as one of the elements in generating force to increase the throwing velocity”(Razak. R, Mea. K, Hussain. R, Kassim. N and Othman. N, 2018).
  • “The importance of trunk rotation strength in throwing velocity have been supported by Stodden, Campbell, and Moyer (2008) where this study stated that increase in throwing ball velocity associated with improvement of pelvis and trunk rotation velocity” (Razak. R, 2018).
  • “33% of golfers had previously experienced low back pain. A statistically significant correlation (P < .05) was observed between a history of low back pain with decreased lead hip internal rotation” (Vad. V, 2004).
  • Improving the flexibility of the lumbar spine and hamstrings can significantly reduce CLBP by 18.5%–58% (Gordon.R, 2016)

How To Measure Spinal Flexibility Using The MAT.

Using The MAT, practitioners are able to quickly perform objective assessments for Spinal Flexion, Spinal Extension, Spinal Side Bending, and Spinal Rotation and how these movements relate to range of motion of areas such as the hip joint in upright function. 

This process can then allow the practitioner to set a movements baseline, identify deficiencies and track progression overtime of their treatment or flexibility based interventions. 

Are you measuring Spinal Flexibility with your patients and clients?

Join the thousands of therapists and trainers worldwide who have stopped guessing and started measuring their patients and clients using objective flexibility testing and the MAT.

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