Measurement of Wrist Motion in the Punch

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BACKGROUND 

Hand and wrist injuries are the most commonly reported injuries in boxing. Previous studies have looked at shoulder and elbow joint angles in punching, but none have investigated movement at the wrist

METHODS

An 6-degree-of-freedom electromagnetic tracking system was used to measure wrist movement during punching, which was compared to a mechanical surrogate and static wrist angle measurements. The electromagnetic system was deemed more appropriate than other commonly used systems such as those using reflective markers (difficult due to the presence of boxing gloves) and electrogoniometers (prone to technical errors). 

29 national-level british boxers (23 male, 6 female) were included in the study. Quasi-static measurements of wrist angle (with the upper arm and forearm in a fixed position) were taken utilising an electromagnetic tracking system, and cross-referenced with video footage using reflective markers. The athletes then performed 6 jabs and 6 left hooks against a bag, and the 3 methods were combined to ascertain the angle of the wrist in all planes at the moment of impact.

FINDINGS

In comparison to the video-based system, the electromagnetic system proved to be valid within 2-6 degrees in the quasi-static measurements. The system also displayed good retest reliability  in assessing wrist angle during punching. 

IMPLICATIONS

The electromagnetic tracking system described in the study is a reliable and accurate method for assessing wrist motion in punching. Further research utilizing this tool may help continue to deepen our understanding of hand and wrist injury mechanisms, which in turn may have implications for both technical training and rehabilitation.

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About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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