Abridged Program May Offer More Practical Way to Reduce Injury Risk, Reports The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Newswise — A shortened, focused "jump training" program may help to lower the risk of knee injuries in women basketball players, according to a study in the December issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals, and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, and pharmacy.

The abridged program yields "similar positive effects on landing strategies and functional performance" compared to longer, more complex training programs—and thus may be more "user friendly" to coaches and athletes, according to the study by Lee Herrington, Ph.D., M.C.S.P., C.S.C.S., of University of Salford, Manchester, UK. Shorter Jump Training Program May Help Protect the Knee In the jump training program, athletes received coaching and feedback on appropriate landing technique. The specific goal was to decrease the "knee valgus angle" when landing from jumps. Landing with the knee in valgus position (ie, knees "turned in") is thought to increase the risk of knee injury.

Fifteen competitive female basketball players completed the four-week training program, three sessions per week. Knee valgus angles during two different landing tasks (a drop-jump and a jump-shot test) were compared from before to after training. The women were also assessed on a crossover hop test to assess hop distance.

The results showed significant improvements in proper landing technique. On both tests, the women landed with reduced valgus angles—that is, their knees were straighter. Landing from the jump shot, valgus angle was reduced by an average of 4.5 degrees on the left leg and 4.3 degrees on the right leg.

On the crossover hop test, distance jumped increased by nearly 75 percent after jump training. This indicated increased strength and stability of the knee, likely helping to protect against injury.

Women basketball players appear to be particularly prone to knee injuries, especially to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Previous studies have shown that jump training programs can improve knee valgus angles in female basketball players and lead to reduced rates of ACL injuries.

However, most of these jump training programs have been intensive programs lasting 6 to 8 weeks, and have included a variety of other training elements. "It remains unclear if it is jump training that makes the difference or a combined strength, flexibility, and jump-training program," according to Herrington.

The new study shows that a 4-week jump training program can significantly improve landing technique and improve knee strength and stability in female basketball players. Although a larger study would be needed to show a significant effect on knee or ACL injuries, the results show that a significantly shorter program can produce results comparable to those of much longer and complex mixed-training programs. This shorter and more focused training program may offer coaches, trainers, and athletes a simpler but still effective way of reducing the high rate of knee injuries in female basketball players.

About The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research The editorial mission of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) is to advance the knowledge about strength and conditioning through research. A unique aspect of this journal is that it includes recommendations for the practical use of research findings. While the journal name identifies strength and conditioning as separate entities, strength is considered a part of conditioning. The journal wishes to promote the publication of peer-reviewed manuscripts which add to our understanding of conditioning and sport through applied exercise science. The JSCR is the official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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