NEUROMUSCULAR TRAINING EFFECTS ON THE STIFFNESS PROPERTIES OF THE KNEE JOINT AND LANDING BIOMECHANICS OF YOUNG FEMALE RECREATIONAL ATHLETES

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Abstract

Background

Stiffness properties of the knee joint and landing biomechanics are important factors linked to injury risk. Neuromuscular training may mitigate the risk injury and simultaneously improve sports performance.

Objective

To investigate the effect of neuromuscular training on the stiffness properties of the knee joint and landing biomechanics of young female recreational athletes.

Design

Quasi-experimental study.

Setting

Biomechanics laboratory.

Participants

Twenty-six female recreational athletes.

Interventions

Intervention group: combined plyometric (drop jump movements, cutting techniques with quick reactions and maximal effort) and resistance (body-weight, dumbbell and Thera-Band® exercises) training, 3 times/week for 6 weeks; control group: regular physical activity.

Main Outcome Measurements

Peak torque of the knee extensors, relaxed and contracted muscle stiffness of the vastus lateralis, knee joint musculoarticular stiffness (MAS), and drop vertical jump (DVJ) performance were assessed pre- and post-intervention.

Results

Post-intervention MAS increased significantly (pre- 1657.58±338.53 Nm−1, post- 1930.79±419.15 Nm−1) in the intervention group only. Additionally, compared with the control group the intervention group exhibited an increased rate of torque development (pre- 905.13±90.31 Nms−1, post- 1076.35±93.14 Nms−1), decreased knee valgus (pre- 7.86±5.86 °; post- 2.48±5.34 °), increased maximum knee flexion (pre- 73.17±9.32 °; post- 79.68±9.70 °), increased flight time (pre- 0.43±0.04 s; post- 0.46±0.03 s), an increase in DVJ height (pre- 0.23±0.04 m; post- 0.26±0.04 m), as well as decreased peak ground reaction force of the first (pre- 2.44±0.60 Nkg−1; post- 1.83± 0.47 Nkg−1) and second landings (pre- 2.34±0.86 Nkg−1; post- 2.06±0.92 Nkg−1) of the DVJ.

Conclusions

Neuromuscular training can improve the stiffness characteristics of the knee joint and landing biomechanics of recreational female athletes.

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