The effect of deep neck flexor muscle endurance and stability on the sprinting technique of young sprinters at the University of the Western Cape Athletics Club
Sprinting can be described as the ability to cover a short distance in the fastest possible time. It requires enormous stability, strength and speed to achieve this goal. Any improvements in technique or speed can be the difference between winning and losing and ultimately gold or silver. Many coaches focus their training on improving the mechanics of the lower limb in order to achieve their goal. They often neglect to consider the effect the upper limb, head, neck and trunk has on the sprinters technique. This study aimed to determine the effect the muscles that assist in stabilising the head and neck namely the deep neck flexors, has on sprinting technique. A systematic review was conducted to determine the factors that influence the acquisition of the correct and most efficient sprint technique. Thereafter assessments were done to determine the prevalence of neck discomfort and how it impacts the athlete’s life by use of the Disability Neck Index. In addition, the endurance of the participant’s deep neck flexors using the Craniocervical Flexion Test and an analysis of their sprinting technique through video analysis were conducted. Variables for each assessment were coded and analysed with Chisquared tests to determine statistically significant relationships. Results show that there was to prevalence of neck pain among participants and although the participants have poor deep neck flexor endurance and an inadequate sprinting technique, no statistically significant relationships could be found between these two variables. Thus poor endurance in the deep neck flexors has no effect on sprinting technique. The results of the study was limited due to a small sample size and lack of equipment, thus further research is required in order to completely reject the possibility that the deep neck flexors effects a sprinters ability to acquire an efficient sprinting technique.