Objective: To determine the effects of a physical exercise program on spinal manipulation (SM) performance in 1st-year chiropractic students.
Methods: One hundred and thirteen students from 2 chiropractic schools were assigned to 1 of 2 groups: exercise group (EG) for campus A students or control group (CG) (no training) for campus B students. All participated in 2 1-hour experimental training sessions that were added to the usual technique curriculum. At the beginning and at the end of each session, SM thrust duration and preload force release were recorded as dependent variables in 5 trials performed on a force-sensing table for a total of 10 recorded trials per session. The session consisted of several drills during which augmented feedback was provided to students to improve their skills. The EG performed physical exercises (push-ups, core stabilization, and speeder board exercises) 3 times per week for an 8-week period between the 2 training sessions.
Results: The mean thrust duration increased between the 2 sessions [+0.8 ms (±15.6)]. No difference between groups was found using a t test for independent samples (p = .94). The mean preload force release decreased between the 2 sessions (-6.1 N [±17.1]). Differences between groups were found using a t test for independent samples (p = .03); the results showed a reduction of preload force release in the participants in the EG group compared to those in the CG group (-8.1 N [±16.9] vs -0.3 N [±16.5]).
Conclusion: A physical exercise program seems to be beneficial in the SM learning process; chiropractic students should therefore be encouraged to do home physical exercises to develop their physical capabilities and improve SM delivery.
Keywords: Chiropractic; Education; Exercise; Learning; Spinal Manipulation.