Background In rhythmic gymnastics, legs are the body part with the highest training load. Poor balance, high load, high number of repetitions of technical elements and high amount of training (1300 to 1600 hours per year) are the main injury risk factors. The incidence of injury is high, up to 2.155 injuries/1000 h of training according to different references. Ankle is the most commonly injures part of the body in rhythmic gymnastics (38.9% to 44% of all injuries). According to this, ankle proprioception training that improves balance could be suitable preventive training in rhythmic gymnastics.
Aim The aim of the study was to evaluate effectiveness of ankle proprioception training on athletes’ balance and to evaluate whether there are differences between selected balance parameters before and after preventive ankle proprioception training. Changes in observed balance parameters could indicate reduction of injury risk. Force plate balance test was used for evaluation.
Methods 9 expert rhythmic gymnasts whose average age was 16 ± 4.33 years participated in the study. The selected balance test consisted of maintaining balance during sigle-leg stance on a force plate for 30 s with eyes open. The test was executed before and after a 6-week preventive training programme focused on improving ankle proprioception. Four parameters were observed closely: sway path, sway average amplitude, frequency of oscilation and sway fatigue index, all of them in both anterior-posterior (A-P) and medial-lateral (M-L). For each of the chosen parameters descriptive statistics were conducted and further analysed. Comparison of chosen parameters for individual athletes before and after preventive training was made using the independent-samples t-test.
Results The results showed statistically significant differences in mean values of two parameters, showing improvements of those parameters after preventive training. This study found that athletes had statictically significantly greater values of sway path A-P (1625.18 ± 764.93, p = 0.000, p < 0.05), sway path M-L (1850.67 ± 2059.56, p = 0.027, p < 0,05), frequency of oscillation A-P (27,81 ± 2,58, p = 0.000, p < 0.05) and frequency of oscillation M-L (20,74 ± 12,17, p = 0.001, p < 0.05). The differences in mean values of sway average amplitude and sway fatigue index were not statictically significant.
Conclusion The results suggest that selected preventive training has positive effects on athletes’ ability of maintaining balance. The results suggest that athletes’ body control improved and consequenty their injury risk lowered.
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