Landing Technique and Performance in Youth Athletes After a Single Injury-Prevention Program Session
Root H, Trojian T, Martinez J, Kraemer W, DiStefano LJ. J Athl Train. Published Online First: November 2, 2015; DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-50.11.01
Take Home Message: An injury prevention program warm-up helped immediately improve landing mechanics in a youth population without compromising performance measures.
Several Sports Med Res posts have discussed the benefits of injury prevention programs (see below). Unfortunately, many athletic programs have yet to incorporate injury prevention programs into practices. If these programs have immediate short-term benefits compared with “traditional” warm-up activities then coaches and athletes may be more likely to adopt injury prevention programs as a warm-up. Therefore, the authors of this randomized trial investigated the immediate effects on landing techniques and performance measures of 3 warm-up protocols: static warm-up (jog followed by traditional stretching of major muscle groups), dynamic warm-up (functional activities that were gradually increased in intensity), and injury prevention warm-up, which was similar to a dynamic warm up with plyometrics and balance activities added. Eighty-nine youth participants between 5th and 9th grade performed performance tasks (i.e., vertical jump, long jump, shuttle run, and jump-landing task) prior to randomly completing one of the 3 warm-up protocols. The participants then completed the performance tasks again within 10 minutes of finishing their randomized warm-up protocol. The participants were unaware of which program was the injury prevention warm-up. The evaluators were blinded to time (pre or post) as well as to what warm-up the participants completed. The injury prevention warm-up resulted in a greater improvement in landing techniques (as assessed by the Landing Error Scoring System) in comparison to the dynamic and static warm ups protocols. There were no differences in changes in any of the performance variables (i.e., vertical jump height, long jump distance, shuttle run time) among the 3 groups.
The authors of this study discovered that an injury prevention program can improve landing mechanics immediately post program while not altering performance in a youth population. An improvement in landing mechanics immediately after a 12 minute warm-up could be part of the reason that injury prevention programs successfully reduce the risk of injuries. These programs may place an athlete in more optimal landing positions. It was interesting that these authors found no improvements in performance post dynamic warm-up or that there were no decreases in performance post static warm-up despite previous research findings. It is exciting to see that there are such positive results in a younger cohort. Future research should focus on long-term implications within this age group, since they are developing neuromuscular patterns. This could help decrease their risk for injury as they get older if they develop more optimal neuromuscular patterns. It may also be interesting to know how the athletes “felt” in regards to physical and mental preparation after these types of warm-up programs. Athletes are often accustomed to dynamic or static stretching as part of their pre-activity routines. This deviation from the “norm” may take time to educate athletes about these programs and help them feel more comfortable with the new warm-up. Clinically, the authors provide more evidence to support replacing our traditional warm-up programs with an injury prevention program.
Questions for Discussion: Are there any concerns that you have heard from athletes regarding injury prevention programs? What has your experience been with trying to integrate an injury prevention program?
Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban