Sustained Improvements in Dynamic Balance and Landing Mechanics After a 6-Week Neuromuscular Training Program in College Women’s Basketball Players

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

Epidemiological data demonstrate the need for lower-extremity injury-prevention training. Neuromuscularcontrol (NMC) programs are immediately effective at minimizing lower-extremity injury risk and improving sport-related performance measures. Research investigating lasting effects after an injury-prevention program is limited.

Objective:

To determine whether dynamic balance, landing mechanics, and hamstring and quadriceps strength could be improved after a 6-wk NMC intervention and maintained for a season.

Design:

Prospective case series.

Setting:

Controlled laboratory.

Participants:

11 Division I women’s basketball players (age 19.40 ± 1.35 y, height 178.05 ± 7.52 cm, mass 72.86 ± 10.70 kg).

Interventions:

Subjects underwent testing 3 times, completing the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT), Landing Error Scoring System (LESS), and isometric strength testing for the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles. Pretest and posttest 1 occurred immediately before and after the intervention, respectively, and posttest 2 at the end of the competitive season, 9 mo after posttest 1. Subjects participated in eighteen 30-min plyometric and NMC-training sessions over a 6-wk period.

Main Outcome Measures:

The normalized SEBT composite score, normalized peak isometric hamstrings:quadriceps (H:Q) ratio, and the LESS total score.

Results:

The mean composite reach significantly improved over time (F2,10 = 6.96, P = .005) where both posttest scores were significantly higher than pretest (70.41% ± 4.08%) (posttest 1 73.48% ± 4.19%, t10 = –3.11, P = .011) and posttest 2 (74.2% ± 4.77%, t10 = –3.78, P = .004). LESS scores significantly improved over time (F2,10 = 6.29, P = .009). The pretest LESS score (7.30 ± 3.40) was higher than posttest 1 (4.9 ± 1.20, t10 = 2.71, P = .024) and posttest 2 (5.44 ± 1.83, t10 = 2.58, P = .030). There were no statistically significant differences (P > .05) over time for the H:Q ratio when averaging both legs (F2,10 = 0.83, P = .45).

Conclusions:

A 6-wk NMC program improved landing mechanics and dynamic balance over a 9-mo period in women’s basketball players. NMC adaptations can be retained without an in-season maintenance program.

Pfile is with the Dept of Health and Human Performance, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. Gribble is with the Div of Athletic Training, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Buskirk is with the Dept of Sports Medicine, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH. Meserth is with Viscent Orthopedic Solutions. Pietrosimone is with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

Address author correspondence to Kate Pfile at pfilekr@cofc.edu.