Volume 5, Issue 8 (September 2008)
The Importance of an Objective Assessment to Identify Functional Constraints of Young Skier Athletes
In general, athletes and trainers overlook the need for periodical monitoring of functional abilities. Altered abilities may lead to the development of acute and chronic injuries. This study provides evidence supporting the inclusion of functional assessment as an essential branch of a training program applied to young skiers. Healthy and recently injured athletes engaged in a ski team were functionally evaluated prior to start of the next winter season. Force production and balance abilities were measured, respectively, by means of isokinetic contractions at three speeds (240°s−1, 120°s−1, and 60°s−1) of knee joint movement and of forceplate sway frequency on the frontal plane. In addition, muscle power was indirectly assessed by measuring jump height with an optic device. Subjects were compared according to their right and left leg performance. Although no sign of physical disability was reported by subjects within the injured group, the functional assessment revealed a diminished ability to produce force and to balance similarly with both legs, exhibiting a statistically significant increase in sway frequency (p<0.05) and decrease in jump height (p<0.05) when performing the task with the injured leg. An interesting outcome of this survey was the identification of two distinct groups by using an objective assessment of functional abilities. The applied quantitative approaches are preferred to be unaffected by potentially misleading subjective interpretations of the experimenter and to provide reliable and useful information to monitor injured and healthy people.