Background: A number of studies have shown that proprioception training can reduce the risk of injuries in pivoting sports, but the mechanism is not clearly understood.
Aim: To determine the contributing effects of propioception on knee joint position sense among team handball players.
Study design: Prospective cohort study.
Methods: Two professional female handball teams were followed prospectively for the 2005–6 season. 20 players in the intervention team followed a prescribed proprioceptive training programme while 19 players in the control team did not have a specific propioceptive training programme. The coaches recorded all exposures of the individual players. The location and nature of injuries were recorded. Joint position sense (JPS) was measured by a goniometer on both knees in three angle intervals, testing each angle five times. Assessments were performed before and after the season by the same examiner for both teams. In the intervention team a third assessment was also performed during the season. Complete data were obtained for 15 subjects in the intervention team and 16 in the control team. Absolute error score, error of variation score and SEM were calculated and the results of the intervention and control teams were compared.
Results: The proprioception sensory function of the players in the intervention team was significantly improved between the assessments made at the start and the end of the season (mean (SD) absolute error 9.78–8.21° (7.19–6.08°) vs 3.61–4.04°(3.71–3.20°), p<0.05). No improvement was seen in the sensory function in the control team between the start and the end of the season (mean (SD) absolute error 6.31–6.22°(6.12–3.59°) vs 6.13–6.69°(7.46–6.49°), p>0.05).
Conclusion: This is the first study to show that proprioception training improves the joint position sense in elite female handball players. This may explain the effect of neuromuscular training in reducing the injury rate.
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Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The study was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee and all participants gave informed consent.