Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
This study takes a quantitative approach to investigating the short-term impact of nerve mobilization (NM) exercises on forearm and thigh muscle strength in healthy, college-aged individuals (n = 10, 5 female, 5 male). In the current sports physiology research on athletic performance and recovery the importance of the nervous system is often overlooked. Recent advancements in technology for measuring strength assessment and new findings in neuromechanics have generated initial evidence that neural factors significantly contribute to muscle performance. Nerve mobilization (NM) is a physical therapy technique consisting of static and dynamic stretches that move the involved nerve through full range of motion and is most commonly used to treat nerve compression/entrapment syndromes and for nerve-related pain management. A literature review found that the current literature on NM does not adequately address how NM exercises directly affect muscle performance. In this study the strength of the forearm muscles (digital and carpi flexors and extensors) and thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstring) were measured before and after performing a protocol of NM exercises designed to mobilize the ulnar, median, radial, and sciatic nerves. This protocol was ten minutes in length and done twice a week for four consecutive weeks. To determine whether muscle performance was affected by NM exercises, baseline and post-experiment values for muscle force, velocity, power at 50% of Fmax, and Vmax were compared and significance was evaluated using paired t-tests.
The results of this study found evidence to support that sciatic nerve mobilization significantly increases hamstring performance while doing hamstring curls. Following the four weeks of NM exercises, hamstring Vmax and Fmax increased significantly among female participants. Hamstring power output at 50% of Fmax power increased significantly for male and female participants. The upper limb nerve mobilization exercises had no effect on the performance of wrist flexor and extensor muscles. There were also no significant changes in quadriceps muscle performance among either female or male participants. While more studies are needed to confirm or dispute these findings, this study’s results show nerve mobilization does not negatively harm muscle performance and provides preliminary evidence that lower limb nerve mobilization increases hamstring muscle strength in a short amount of time.
Froehlich, Lauren, "The Effects of Nerve Mobilization Exercises on Muscle Performance: A Pilot Study" (2020). Scripps Senior Theses. 1547.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.