Neuromuscular training programs (NTPs) improve landing technique and decrease vertical ground-reaction forces (VGRFs), resulting in injury-risk reduction. NTPs in an aquatic environment may elicit the same improvements as land-based programs with reduced joint stress.
To examine the effects of an aquatic NTP on landing technique as measured by the Landing Error Scoring System (LESS) and VGRFs, immediately and 4 mo after the intervention.
Design and Setting:
Repeated measures, pool and laboratory.
Fifteen healthy, recreationally active women (age 21 ± 2 y, mass 62.02 ± 8.18 kg, height 164.74 ± 5.97 cm) who demonstrated poor landing technique (LESS-Real Time > 4).
All participants completed an aquatic NTP 3 times/wk for 6 wk.
Main Outcome Measures:
Participants’ landing technique was evaluated using a jump-landing task immediately before (PRE), immediately after (POST), and 4 mo after (RET) the intervention period. A single rater, blinded to time point, graded all videos using the LESS, which is a valid and reliable movement-screening tool. Peak VGRFs were measured during the stance phase of the jump-landing test. Repeated-measure analyses of variance with planned comparisons were performed to explore differences between time points.
LESS scores were lower at POST (4.46 ± 1.69 errors) and at RET (4.2 ± 1.72 errors) than at PRE (6.30 ± 1.78 errors) (P < .01). No significant differences were observed between POST and RET (P > .05). Participants also landed with significantly lower peak VGRFs (P < .01) from PRE (2.69 ± .72 N) to POST (2.23 ± .66 N).
The findings introduce evidence that an aquatic NTP improves landing technique and suggest that improvements are retained over time. These results show promise of using an aquatic NTP when there is a desire to reduce joint loading, such as early stages of rehabilitation, to improve biomechanics and reduce injury risk.
Scarneo, Root, Martinez, Casa, Mazerolle, and DiStefano are with the Dept of Kinesiology; Denegar, the Dept of Physical Therapy; Dann, the Athletics Dept; and Aerni, the Dept of Sports Medicine, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.