Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Mark Romanick


Football; Lumbar Vertebrae -- injuries


Purpose: Football players are known to develop lumbar spine pathologies, especially extension pathologies (Le., spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis). This study examined the possibility of increased mobility in the lumbar spine with increased exposure to football, possible correlating the increased motion with lumbar spine pathologies. Extension of the lumbar spine in college football players was measured and the results of two groups were compared: those who had completed one or two years of eligibility versus those who had completed three or four years. The influence of the collision nature of football on lumbar extension was examined.

Subjects: Thirty-nine male collegiate football players from the University of North Dakota volunteered to participate in this study.

Instrumentation: Lumbar extension measurements were taken using two inclinometers.

Procedure: The inclinometers were placed on the spinous process of T12 and S1_2. Lumbar extension for each subject was measured 3 times and a mean value was taken for use in statistical analysis.

Data Analysis: Using an independent samples T-test, a significant difference (p < .05) was found in lumbar extension measurements between first-and second-year players (N = 15) versus third- and fourth-year players (N = 24).

Conclusion and Clinical Implications: Third- and fourth-year collegiate football players demonstrated more lumbar extension range of motion versus first- and second-year players, supporting the hypothesis that lumbar extension increases with the amount of participation in playing football. Since research implies that longevity in football leads to an increased incidence of lumbar pathology, there may be a correlation between this incidence and the increased mobility that tends to develop over time with participation.