training reduces lower limb injuries in elite female basketball players. A
cluster randomized controlled trial
Bonato M, Benis R, La Torre A.
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2017;00:1–10. doi:
Take Home Message: Elite
female basketball players who participated in neuromuscular training as part of
a warm-up had reduced rates of injuries, especially knee sprains, than those
who participated in a warm-up without neuromuscular training.
Lower extremity injuries comprised ~62%
of orthopedic injuries in the National Basketball Association. Professional
female basketball players sustain 60% more knee and ankle injuries than
professional male basketball players. Interventions focused on neuromuscular
control improve lower extremity alignment, muscle recruiting, shock
attenuation, balance, and posture, which may reduce the risk of injury. The
authors conducted a clinical trial to investigate if a new neuromuscular
training program designed for basketball would decrease the number of lower
limb injuries among elite women basketball teams. The investigators conducted a
two-armed parallel group cluster randomized controlled trial with 15 of the 17
teams from the premier Italian national league (160 athletes). The authors
randomized the teams into the control (74 athletes) and neuromuscular training (86
athletes) groups and blinded both groups to the purpose of the study. The neuromuscular
training intervention was a structured 30-minute warmup with five stages:
low-speed running, active stretching, general strength, plyometrics, and
agility exercises with the ball. The control group did light aerobic exercises,
basketball and team drills, and major muscle group dynamic stretches. Both did
their respective warmups 4 times a week before a regular practice session. The
medical doctors for each team reported injuries that occurred during games or
training and prevented a player from participating in the next session. The
authors reported 32 injuries for the neuromuscular training group and 79 for
the control group. This translates to the neuromuscular training group having 1.7
injuries per 1000 athletic exposures and the control group having 4.7 injuries
per 1000 athletic exposures. The neuromuscular training group consistently had
fewer injuries at the knee and ankle as well as during practice and games.
This study is important because it
highlights that an elite female basketball player who warms up with a neuromuscular
training intervention will have a decreased risk of injury, especially knee
sprains, as compared to those in the control group. The teams had great
compliance (78%), which likely contributed to the successful decrease in injury
rate with the intervention. This is particularly relevant because this
neuromuscular training program is longer (30 minutes) than some other programs
that are < 20 minutes. It would be interesting to see how this rate of
compliance was achieved so clinicians could use those strategies in their
athletic settting. It will be interesting to see if these programs work for
college, high school, or younger female basketball players. This study adds
further evidence that neuromuscular training may help prevent injuries and
should be encouraged by athletic trainers, physicians, parents, and coaches.
Questions for Discussion:   Do you implement neuromuscular training into
your warmups/rehabilitation? If not, are you considering using it after reading
this article? Even though this study was only done on professional female
basketball players, do you see it potentially benefitting other levels of
athlete/other sports? Do you see any possible complications if less experienced
players were to use this technique?
Written by: Amy Virostek
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban