Context: Figure skating requires power and stability for take-off and landing from multi-rotational jumps and various on-ice skills. Repetitive forces may cause overuse injuries distally making lumbopelvic-hip endurance, strength, and neuromuscular control imperative.
Objective: The purpose was to compare lumbopelvic-hip endurance and neuromuscular control in elite figure skaters between sex and limbs using common screening tests.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.
Participants: Forty elite figure skaters (23.2±4.3 years, 169.1±12.2 cm, 20F, 40R landing limb) performed the Y-balance test, single leg squat (SLS), single leg squat jump (SLSJ), and unilateral hip bridge endurance test.
Main Outcome Measures: Normalized reach difference (% of leg length) and composite scores (((Anterior + Posteromedial + Posterolateral)/Limb length x 3) x100) were calculated for Y-balance test. Skaters held the unilateral hip bridge until failure with a maximum allotted time of 120s. Participants performed 5 SLS and SLSJ, barefooted with the contralateral limb held behind them to mimic a landing position. Both tests were scored by the number of times the patella moved medially to the first ray (medial knee displacement (MKD)). MANOVA with post-hoc independent t-tests were performed between groups and sex. Paired t-tests were used to analyze limb differences.
Results: Females had a larger composite Y-balance score (R:+10.8, p=.002; L:+10.5, p=.001) and hip bridge hold time (R:+26.4 sec, p=.004; L:+28.2 sec, p=.002) on both limbs compared to males. Males held the hip bridge longer on their landing limb. During the SLS and SLSJ, 6 skaters performed worse on their non-landing limb during the SLS, and 11 skaters had no MKD with either test.
Conclusions: Females performed better on the Y-balance and unilateral hip bridge tests. Increased MKD for some skaters in the SLS and SLSJ may indicate hip abductor weaknesses. Understanding proximal lumbopelvic-hip variables during take-off and landing may elucidate contributing factors to distal overuse injuries.