We can use basic tests to assess the range of movement at every joint in the body. However this is often time-consuming and unnecessary. During our needs analysis we can ascertain, by an assessment of the movement patterns prominent in the sport, what movements are required at each joint. For striking athletes, rotational ability at the hips and upper back are of prime importance, as they function as the primary centers of rotation. A discussion of the involvement of the kinetic chain in punching may be found here:
Assessment of thoracic spine (upper back) rotation may be done in a seated position with the feet on the floor and the lower back locked done by placing a ball etc. between the knees. Ideally we want to have at least 45 degrees of rotation in each direction.
Hip rotation (internal and external) range of movement will vary considerably between individuals due to the natural variation in anatomical structure, and there may often be a variation between sides as well. Ideally we want to see a total range (external plus internal) of 90 degrees. If we do see a limitation of hip internal rotation (less than 20-30 degrees) this may simply be a function of hip joint structure and will likely not respond to mobility interventions. However it is always worth at least attempting some mobility (as long as it is pain-free) as opening up some additional range of movement in this direction will likely benefit striking mechanics.
A detailed explanation of range of movement assessments for all relevant joints, as well as strategies for improving mobility, are featured in the science of striking
In the next post we will discuss the rationale behind composition tests and their place in the testing battery.
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