Immediate effects of lower cervical spine manipulation on handgrip strength and free-throw accuracy of asymptomatic basketball players: a pilot study

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The purpose of this pilot study was to collect preliminary information for a study to determine the immediate effects of a single unilateral chiropractic manipulation to the lower cervical spine on handgrip strength and free-throw accuracy in asymptomatic male recreational basketball players.


For this study, 24 asymptomatic male recreational right-handed basketball players (age = 26.3 ± 9.2 years, height = 1.81 ± 0.07 m, body mass = 82.6 ± 10.4 kg [mean ± SD]) underwent baseline dominant handgrip isometric strength and free-throw accuracy testing in an indoor basketball court. They were then equally randomized to receive either (1) diversified left lower cervical spine chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) at C5/C6 or (2) placebo CMT at C5/C6 using an Activator adjusting instrument on zero force setting. Participants then underwent posttesting of isometric handgrip strength and free-throw accuracy. A paired-samples t test was used to make within-group pre to post comparisons and between-group pre to post comparisons.


No statistically significant difference was shown between either of the 2 basketball performance variables measured in either group. Isometric handgrip strength marginally improved by 0.7 kg (mean) in the CMT group (P = .710). Free-throw accuracy increased by 13.2% in the CMT group (P = .058). The placebo CMT group performed the same or more poorly during their second test session.


The results of this preliminary study showed that a single lower cervical spine manipulation did not significantly impact basketball performance for this group of healthy asymptomatic participants. A slight increase in free-throw percentage was seen, which deserves further investigation. This pilot study demonstrates that a larger study to evaluate if CMT affects handgrip strength and free-throw accuracy is feasible.

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