Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Paul Wright

Second Advisor

Dr. Laney Nelson

Third Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Helton


This collaborative study used diagnostic ultrasound to identify the cross sectional area (CSA) and parasagittal dimension (PSD) of the multifidus muscle in helping allied health professionals learn more about the relationship between low back injuries and this muscle’s measurement in collegiate athletes. Bilateral ultrasound measurements (L3-L5) were taken from 91 collegiate athletes who participate in men’s and women’s non-contact sports, volleyball, track/field, swimming, softball/baseball. This exploratory study looked at participant history of low back pain (LBP), gender, height, sport mechanics, and presence of one-sided sports. Researchers used independent t-tests to identify athletes with LBP showed muscular atrophy occurred at L5 according to CSA and PSD measurements. Taller athletes (males ≥ 180.3cm and females ≥ 175.3cm) were found to have greater CSA and PSD measurements of the multifidus muscle than shorter athletes. Male CSA and PSD measurements were found to be greater than in females. CSA and PSD measurements were also greater in rotational athletes’ at all lumbar segments except PSDL4L. ANOVA was used to identify the relationship between one-sided dominant sport athletes and nondominant sport athletes CSA and PSD measurements. CSA measurements in rotational athletes were all greater than non-rotational athletes and PSD were greater at L3L and L4R. In one-sided dominant sports, research indicated greater CSA measurements at L5 and L4 and PSD measurements at L3 on the left only. A Least Significant Difference Post Hoc Test was also used to identify baseball/softball athletes being statistically significantly greater in CSA measurements than all sports when comparing groups. Volleyball athletes also had measurements greater than track athletes. iii This study used diagnostic ultrasound to discover differences in CSA and PSD measurements. Measuring the multifidus muscle may be a great strategy to assist allied health professionals with diagnosis of superficial soft tissue injuries, and assist with treatment and prevention of low back injuries. CSA and PSD measurements can help identify abnormalities within the stabilizing multifidus muscle and allow the allied health professionals to create strategies to strengthen and reduce potential LBP. These findings might change how allied health professionals are diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating low back injuries.


Copyright 2012