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Three Whitworth athletic training students perform an impressive research study

March 12, 2013

Whitworth juniors Richard Aley, Aaron Libolt, and Victoria Reardon hope to discover whether the common practice of sports massage before track events is beneficial or harmful to an athlete’s performance. These three athletic training students are specifically researching the effects of pre-participation massage on the power, speed and psychological state of the athlete.

To track the effects of pre-participation massage on lower-body explosiveness, these students will observe and record 20 meter sprints, vertical jumps and a profile of mood states. After doing a pilot study, they discovered better results from an eight-minute pre-participation massage in comparison to a four-minute massage.

This research project began as a group assignment for HS 365W, Evidence-Based Health Science, a class in which they gathered background information and developed the hypothesis. Aley, Libolt and Reardon continue to pursue and actually conduct this research outside of class.

The trio plan on attending and presenting at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Reno, Nev., in fall 2013, as well as at the District 10 Athletic Training Conference in spring 2014. They also hope to publish their research in an academic journal.

Aley, Libolt and Reardon say that all of the professors in the health science department have been an immense help through this process.

“Having the equipment and the guidance to possibly publish research at the undergraduate level is a testament to the faculty’s work in developing the health science department,” says Libolt. “Also, the ability to do research, and possibly publish research, at the undergraduate level is something that is unique and a great experience for us. It is just another aspect of what makes Whitworth a special place.”

At Whitworth, Aley, Libolt, and Reardon are all members of the athletic training club. Aley is also a member of the Whitworth track and field team, on which  he competes in the hammer throw and the discus. Reardon works alongside athletic training professors and assists them in various academic projects.

After graduating from Whitworth, Aley, who is majoring in athletic training and kinesiology, plans to attend graduate school and work as a graduate assistant. He then hopes to become an athletic trainer at a college or university for a few years before going on to a physician assistant graduate program. Libolt, majoring in athletic training, plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy. Reardon, who is majoring in athletic training and kinesiology, wants to jump in to athletic training right after graduation. She is considering working either as a graduate assistant or at a high school as a certified athletic trainer.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.