We have previously discussed the fact that upper body injuries generally start in the legs. So when we are prescribing exercises for athletes recovering from upper body injuries, the Sparta signature derived from our force plate scan is still a huge component. But the fact remains that you need a way to objectively test how upper body injuries are progressing, whether it is Return to Play protocols or reducing the predictive risk associated with upper body injuries.
We know from previous posts that it's crucial to find a valid test. Another way to put this would be, make sure what you're measuring really matters! You need to remove all subjectivity, even when comparing tests from the same athlete. One way to remove subjectivity is to create a closed chain test. Closed chain exercise occurs when the hand or foot is fixed and cannot move, remaining in constant contact with a surface, usually the ground.
Based on this idea we have devised a new force plate test which we call the Sway Scan. The athlete performs a one arm bridge exercise with the fixed arm on the force plate. The test is repeated on the opposite side/arm. The statistical reliability begins with the chosen test, but more specifically the advantage comes from the hardware sensitivity and the variables.
The force plate measures your upper body stability and injury status through sway velocity; the average speed of the center of pressure, which is calculated by dividing the total length of the trajectory (in millimeters) of the center of pressure by the recording period length (in seconds).
There are three things that make this test a great evaluation tool for upper body injuries over other examinations done by a human or in a passive state.
1. Like the Sparta signature, the sensitivity of the force plate allows us to create prescriptions based off the Sway Scan.
2. Based off the athletes' ability to stabilize their entire body, the intensity allows a more valid assessment for the intensity of sports.
3. There are significant links between lower body (specifically gluteus) activation during a successful front bridge (see study), strengthening links between the lower body and upper body health.