THE ATHLETIC SHOULDER (ASH) TEST: RELIABILITY OF A NOVEL UPPER BODY ISOMETRIC STRENGTH TEST IN ELITE RUGBY PLAYERS

Review written by Sam Blanchard info

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

In elite sport, measurements of lower limb isometric strength are used to monitor and track force production with minimal influence of sporting ability. The options available to monitor upper limb neuromuscular fatigue until now have been limited to isokinetic dynamometers or hand-held dynamometers. One comes with a time cost to large squads and the other may be limited with force production over 30kg, which is typical for elite rugby athletes. The ability to produce force in the upper limb may be linked to injury incidence involved in long lever mechanics such as a straight arm tackling or repeated tackling efforts under fatigue. This novel study investigated the methodology of a three position isometric test that could be time efficient, reliable and interactive for upper limb measurements in elite sport.

METHODS

18 elite rugby players free of any acute injury (<72 hours) were tested in three prone positions, known as the "I", "Y" and "T" positions.

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Three maximum tests in each of the three positions were conducted on each side with a 20 second rest. The contralateral arm is positioned behind the back to reduce the temptation of fixation, instead requiring the athlete to stabilise through the truck and scapular girdle. As a measure of rate of force development (RFD) as well as maximum force production, the athletes were cued to push as hard and fast as possible for 3 seconds.

RESULTS

The study found excellent reliability for net force production between days of testing in all test positions. With the exception of the 'I' position on the non-dominant arm which showed some statistical variation, all other tests and measurements produced consistently

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