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Topend Sports Newsletter: 2 Dec 2014

Topend Sports News Alert #8

Bringing you the latest news in sport, science, fitness and nutrition

Welcome to another newsletter from Topend Sports, online's ultimate sport and science resource. Our feature is about an untimely death in sport, plus other interesting news hand-picked for you.

Around the Web

Deadly Cricket: This week Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes died from haemorrhaging around the brain after being hit by a speeding ball on the neck which severed an artery. Cricket is universally considered a gentle game, which makes the death of an international player even more devastating for the legions of cricket fans around the world. Cricketers wear a helmet to protect the head from the ball that can be traveling up to 160 km/hr (100 mph). In this case the helmet did not extend to cover the area where he was hit, though I am sure it will create discussion on whether the helmet design can be improved, and scientists will look for alternative ways to protect the player and look for ways to improve the player's reaction and response to such deliveries. This very rare and unfortunate accident highlights the dangers of competitive sport, and the importance of protecting players from head injuries. Science has played a great part in improving player safety in all sports, and it will need to continue. In this case the cause and effect was brutally clear. In the case of many other sports where prolonged collisions are resulting in head injury, more convincing evidence is required to make the changes, though hopefully not any more deaths. We often think our sporting heroes are invincible. They are not, that is why death in sport hits us hard.

Blood Sports: A short lived kickstarter project was promoting a modified video game controller that drew blood from the player's arm each time they lost. It is not surprising that it was quickly taken offline. However the idea has potential. Think of the interesting data you could collect from the blood samples, like sampling athletes during a sporting contest. Encouraging our youth to donate blood can only be a good thing too. See more on this blood sport.

Beautiful Fitness Tests: What fitness tests would you do on Miss World contestants? Bizarrely the 2014 Miss World contestants took part in a sports day, and were tested on the beep test, as well as doing 60m sprints, 400m relays, a long-jump, and took part in a tug of war competition. I would love to know what they scored on the beep test. See more about their sports day.


On Topend Sports: Sitting & Reaching

The sit-and-reach flexibility test has been a standard component of testing protocols for a long time. It is still the most popular test for flexibility despite many criticisms. The biggest problem is that the results of the test are incorrectly used as a generalisation of a person's overall flexibility. Flexibility is specific to particular joints - being flexible in one area of the body does not necessarily mean someone if flexible elsewhere. Despite that, the sit and reach is still commonly used. To help, there are a few variations of the test that can make the test more specific to certain populations.sit and reach image

  • Presidents Challenge version — the standard sit and reach test on the floor.
  • Test at home version  - just like the standard test above, but can be conducted using basic equipment.
  • Back Saver —   designed to measure the flexibility of the left and right legs separately, isolating them from the lower back.
  • Chair Version - also one leg at a time, suitable for the elderly while sitting on a chair.
  • V-Sit test — this one does not require a box and with the legs apart the leg adductors also get tested.

As you can see it is a versatile test, and as it is so well used there is lots of normative data for comparison. It is still a worthwhile test to include in many testing regimes as long as the interpretation and conclusions are limited. To test other joints and body movements, there is a large range of flexibility tests on Topend Sports.

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