Curcio JE, Grana MJ, England S, Banyas PM, Palmer BD, Placke AE, Rieck WA, Eade AM. Use of the Spencer Technique on Collegiate Baseball Players: Effect on Physical Performance and Self-Report Measures. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2017;117(3):166–175. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2017.031.
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Context: Repeated overhead throwing in baseball players alters range of motion (ROM), contributing to shoulder injury. The Spencer technique has been used, anecdotally, to reduce the effects of throwing-induced limitations in ROM.
Objective: To quantify the effects of a single administration of the Spencer technique on the ROM and performance of collegiate baseball pitchers.
Methods: Pitchers from the Seton Hill University men’s baseball team were randomly assigned to 2 treatment groups: Spencer technique or sham therapy. The first week consisted of baseline outcome measurements (1 week before treatment), including ROM (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, and external rotation) of the dominant throwing arm, 10 maximum velocity throws, and self-reported performance using the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic Shoulder and Elbow Score (KJOC-SES). The second week consisted of pretreatment ROM measurement, followed by a single treatment and repeated measurement of all outcomes.
Results: Of 16 players, 15 met inclusion criteria. An effect of training on ROM between weeks 1 and 2 for all players consisted of significantly decreased internal rotation (P=.02) and increased external rotation (P=.04). A differential effect of treatment was found on the mean difference in internal rotation after treatment, compared with the mean difference before treatment on the same day (P=.01). Additionally, a trend toward statistical significance for abduction (P=.08) was noted. Analyses reveal that these effects were caused by significant increases in the internal rotation and abduction for the Spencer group only (P=.02). All other analyses of ROM, as well as performance measured by maximum velocity throws and the KJOC-SES, revealed no differential effect of treatment.
Conclusion: The results of this study support the use of the Spencer technique in counteracting the potentially negative effects of repeated throwing on internal rotation. However, a single administration did not affect functional ability in this study. Future studies of longer duration and including differing levels of play, injury status, and playing position will be needed to further evaluate the full potential of the Spencer technique in athletes who engage in repeated overhead arm movements.
Keywords: baseball, osteopathic manipulative treatment, shoulder injuries, Spencer technique, sports medicine
a Data are given as number of participants unless otherwise indicated.
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