Aims The primary aim of this interventional study was to identify if a PEP1 is an effective neuromuscular training intervention to change neuromuscular control (NMC) of the lower limb in young female acrobatic gymnasts. Secondary aims were to identify if the gymnast's perceived a change in their own strength, physical sporting ability (PSA), self-esteem or physical self-worth (PSW) following this neuromuscular training method.
Methods Fifty-four female acrobatic gymnasts, mean age 11.43 years (±2.96 range 7–18 years), height 1.44 (±0.16 SD) metres, mean weight 37.4 kg (±13.35 SD), were recruited. All participants were assessed through 2-dimensional video analysis using the Qualitative Analysis of Single Leg Squat Scoring tool2 (QASLS) and The Children and Youth Self-Perception Questionnaire3 (CY-PSPP). Outcome measures were completed pre- and post- an eight week PEP intervention. The PEP was completed up to three times a week, prior to standard acrobatic training, within the competitive season.
Results Post-interventional analysis observed a significant improvement in the QASLS score on both the right (p=0.001) and left lower limb (p=0.001) of female gymnasts. The CY-PSPP questionnaire showed significant improvement in gymnast's perception of their strength (p=0.013), PSA (p=0.002) and self-esteem (p=0.013). No significance was observed in PSW (p=0.164).
Conclusions An 8-week PEP showed a significant effect in increasing young female acrobatic gymnasts NMC whilst performing a single leg squat. The PEP, as a method of neuromuscular training, demonstrated significant improvement in gymnast's self-perception of strength, PSA and self-esteem. Gymnastics is a sport dominated by childhood and adolescent age groups. Effective injury prevention strategies are vital to protect the health of young gymnasts. These results demonstrate that a PEP incorporating neuromuscular training interventions during childhood and pre-adolescence can positively improve young female gymnasts' NMC.
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