Massabesic Health Resources
Research Proposal

A Field Study on the Effects of Exercise Training on Back Extensor Strength with High School Athletes With and Without the Use of the Stretch Bench. A low back questionaire, hip flexor length measure and the timed isometric endurance of the trunk extensors will be administered with all the study participants to determine if any of these indicators can be used as a viable screening tool for the incidence of low back pain.
Members of the Research Group

  • Simone L. Palmer, PT
  • Jim G. Stevenson, PT
  • Laura H. Beauchesne, MS, PT
  • Statistical Advisor from University of New England: Michael Fillyaw, MS, PT

On December 4th, 2000, the Field Study was officially launched in Waterboro.

Massabesic High School Coaches: Dave Billings and Sue Dunn were accompanied by Student Athletes from the Freshman Basketball Teams to the MHR clinic. All participated in an afternoon of Pre-Testing and Exercise Training. Students' isometric trunk extensors (back muscles) strength and hip flexor flexibility were individually measured and recorded. A Low Back Questionaire was also administered to test students' knowledge of safe lifting methods.
Students were randomly assigned to two different groups. Everyone was instructed in the same five trunk exercises.
The reason for the two groups was to investigate the results of strengthening with and without the Maine fabricated Stretch Bench.
Twice a week, the students perform their trunk exercise training. See the examples pictured below.

Clinical Research Findings
(All pictures can be clicked to enlarge)
On March 1, 2001, Post Testing of the Student Athletes was conducted at the clinic of Massabesic Health Resources in Waterboro, Maine. The total number of participants at the onset of the Field Study was thirteen. Eleven student athletes completed the Field Study. The identical MHR Physical Therapists, Jim Stevenson and Laura Beauchesne conducted the Pre and Post-Tests to ensure correct, consistent Testing technique.
The two Pre and Post - Tests examined were low back muscle strength and hip flexor flexibility. The first test quantified isometric trunk extensor endurance (how many seconds you could hold your torso level and still while your lower body was secured to a plinth). A second hand watch and inclinometer provided the tools of measurement. Note the body position held during the timed test.

Hip FlexibilityThe second test examined hip flexibility by measuring the joint angle at your hip and torso, in a specified position with a specific tool designed for measuring joint angles called a goniometer. The numerical reading on the goniometer (measuring tool) accurately represented the hip flexor muscles' flexibility left and right while the student athlete rested on their back with the other leg bent to support the low back. See the picture on the left for the visual.

For additional information on this research project, e-mail us!

Read on and check out the exact descriptions the Student Athletes followed on the bench and land versions.

LAND EXERCISE ROUTINE
(All pictures can be clicked to enlarge)

Land Exercise #1Exercise #1 - Opposite arm/leg
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to increase the stability of the low back and the muscles that run the entire length of the trunk and back.
Position - Begin on hands and knees on the floor. Raise an arm and the opposite leg and then return to the starting position.
Repetitions - Each exercise will be completed 15 times.
Complete 3 sets of the exercise with a minute rest between each set. Repeated the sequence with the arm and leg previously not lifted.

Land Exercise #2Exercise #2 - Crunches
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen upper abdominal muscles, which help in stabilization of the trunk.
Position - Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slowly raise your head and upper trunk off the floor. The arms will remain crossed over the your chest with the elbows bent.
Repetitions - Each exercise will be completed 15 times.
Complete 3 sets of the exercises with a minute rest between each set.

Land Exercise #3Exercise #3 - Self-Traction
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to provide a gentle stretch to the low back muscles and deeper structures of the back.
Position - Stand next to a solid object, which may be held onto. Slowly lower your body weight downward. The buttocks are to be directed downward, mimicking a sitting position. A gentle stretch will be felt in the low back area.
Repetitions - The position will be held for 15 seconds, with this sequence being repeated 10 times.

Land Exercise #4Exercise #4 - Active Quadriceps Stretch
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to increase the flexibility of thigh muscles on the front of the legs to promote correct biomechanical alignment of the body.
Position - Stand with your back to the wall. One leg will be bent behind, with the arm on the same side holding the leg at the ankle. Keep the back straight (no extra hollow). Pull gently on the bent leg so a stretch is felt in the front part of the bent thigh.
Repetitions - This stretch will be held for 30 seconds one time only. The stretch will be repeated on the opposite leg.

Land Exercise #5Exercise #5 - Active Hamstring Stretch
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to increase the flexibility of the thigh muscles on the back of the leg to promote correct biomechanical alignment of the body.
Position - Sit on the floor with one leg straight out in front. The other leg will be bent up so the middle portion of the leg is facing upward. Slowly reach towards the outstretched leg maintaining a straight back. A gentle stretch will be felt in the back of the thigh of the outstretched leg.
Repetitions - This stretch will be held for 30 seconds one time only. The stretch will be repeated on the opposite leg.

STRETCH BENCH ROUTINE
(All pictures can be clicked to enlarge)

Stretch Bench Exercise #1Exercise #1 - Opposite arm/leg Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to increase the stability of low back and the muscles that run the entire length of the trunk and back.
Position - Lie on your stomach on the bench. Raise an arm and the opposite leg, then return to the starting position.
Repetitions - Each exercise will be completed 15 times.
Complete 3 sets of the exercise with a minute rest between each set. The entire sequence will be repeated raising the arm and leg previously not lifted.

Stretch Bench Exercise #2Exercise #2 - Crunches
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen upper abdominal muscles, which help stabilize the trunk.
Position - Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet on the downward part of the bench. Slowly raise your head and upper trunk off the bench. The arms will remain crossed over your chest with both elbows bent.
Repetitions - Each exercise will be completed 15 times.
Complete three sets of the exercises with a minute rest between each set.

Stretch Bench Exercise #3Exercise #3 - Self-Traction
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to provide a gentle stretch to the low back muscles and deeper structures of the back.
Position - Stand at the foot of the bench. Bend your knees and support them on the downward portion of the bench. While holding onto the handles at the middle of the bench, slowly allow your body weight to lower backwards. The buttocks are to be directed downward, mimicking a sitting position. A gentle stretch will be felt in the low back area.
Repetitions - The position will be held for 15 seconds, with this sequence being repeated 10 times.

Stretch Bench Exercise #4Exercise #4 - Active Quadriceps Stretch Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to increase the flexibility of thigh muscles on the front of the legs to promote correct biomechanical alignment of the body.
Position - Stand with your back facing the bench. One leg will be bent behind, with the foot allowed to rest on the bench. Keep your back straight and slightly squat on the opposite leg so a stretch is felt in the front part of the thigh.
Repetitions - This stretch will be held for 30 seconds one time only. The stretch will be repeated on the opposite leg.

Stretch Bench Exercise #5Exercise #5 - Active Hamstring Stretch
Purpose - The purpose of this exercise is to increase the flexibility of the thigh muscles on the back of the leg to promote correct biomechanical alignment of the body.
Position - Stand on one leg with the opposite leg on the bench as straight as possible. Slowly reach with both hands towards the foot of the elevated leg. A gentle stretch will be felt in the back of the thigh of the raised leg.
Repetitions - This stretch will be held for 30 seconds one time only. The stretch will be repeated on the opposite leg.

Field Study Results

Verbal and written feedback surveys were collected on the final day of the study at the Waterboro clinic. In attendance were MHS Freshman Basketball Coach Sue Dunn, Notre Dame College’s Research and Clinical Education Professor George Fulk, MS, PT accompanied by three Senior Physical Therapy students and the research team of investigators of Massabesic Health Resources as initially outlined.

The control (non-bench) and experimental (stretch bench) groups commented on the following benefits of the Field Study:

  • Increasing flexibility of the back will decrease the chances of injury
  • Learning how to stretch muscles of the back and stomach
  • Realizing what the consequences of not properly stretching are when you play sports!
  • Learning a lot more about individual muscles and how to work out safer!

Conclusion

Based on the size of this sample, the statistical analysis did not demonstrate a significant difference for any of the performance measures between the stretch bench and non-bench groups.

Acknowledgements

From each of the research investigators, we would like to thank all of those people involved in the completion of this Field Study. The list is long!
William C. Meade, M.D. for the research "challenge"
Maine Stretch Bench Fabricators: Mark Rouillard, Robert Bourque and Don Hartford
University of New England Librarians especially Barbara J. Swartzlander, M.S. Ed. M.I.S. for a lengthy literature search
Stephen Beck, Senior PT student at UNE for his expertise in posing the null hypothesis
Michael Fillyaw, M.S., P.T. for excellent, perserving research/statistical guidance
Johanna Brown, Senior PT student at UNE for her diligence and organizational skills
Stephen Vighetti, PT exercise model
University of New England Internal Review Board for granting us the approval to work safely with human subjects
Sandra Tibbetts of MHR for arduous hours at the computer
Lori Deshaies of MHR for administrative assistance
SAD #57 District Superintendent Fred Bechard, Massabesic High School Principal James Stephenson, and Athletic Director Richard Heinknen for the privilege to work with their student body
Lynn Clancy, Master's entry level PT student from MGH for her timing of the exercise routines
Kathy Beaulieu, Notre Dame PT student model for video instructions
Freshman Basketball Coaches Sue Dunn and Dave Billings for their active participation in the process and thank you to those Freshmen Basketball Players that chose to follow through with 12 weeks of exercise training!

Closing Remarks

We enjoyed this research opportunity to work closely with all of you. There is ever so much more detail than initially meets the eye! Thank you for your dedication to the learning process of how to go about exercising regularly to be strong and safe.

Stretch Bench Exercise #5
Simone L. Palmer, PT, Jim G. Stevenson, PT, Laura H. Beauchesne, MS, PT


  
  
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