Background Stiffness properties of the knee joint and landing biomechanics are important factors linked to injury risk. Neuromuscular training may mitigate the risk injury and simultaneously improve sports performance.
Objective To investigate the effect of neuromuscular training on the stiffness properties of the knee joint and landing biomechanics of young female recreational athletes.
Design Quasi-experimental study.
Setting Biomechanics laboratory.
Participants Twenty-six female recreational athletes.
Interventions Intervention group: combined plyometric (drop jump movements, cutting techniques with quick reactions and maximal effort) and resistance (body-weight, dumbbell and Thera-Band® exercises) training, 3 times/week for 6 weeks; control group: regular physical activity.
Main Outcome Measurements Peak torque of the knee extensors, relaxed and contracted muscle stiffness of the vastus lateralis, knee joint musculoarticular stiffness (MAS), and drop vertical jump (DVJ) performance were assessed pre- and post-intervention.
Results Post-intervention MAS increased significantly (pre- 1657.58±338.53 Nm−1, post- 1930.79±419.15 Nm−1) in the intervention group only. Additionally, compared with the control group the intervention group exhibited an increased rate of torque development (pre- 905.13±90.31 Nms−1, post- 1076.35±93.14 Nms−1), decreased knee valgus (pre- 7.86±5.86 °; post- 2.48±5.34 °), increased maximum knee flexion (pre- 73.17±9.32 °; post- 79.68±9.70 °), increased flight time (pre- 0.43±0.04 s; post- 0.46±0.03 s), an increase in DVJ height (pre- 0.23±0.04 m; post- 0.26±0.04 m), as well as decreased peak ground reaction force of the first (pre- 2.44±0.60 Nkg−1; post- 1.83± 0.47 Nkg−1) and second landings (pre- 2.34±0.86 Nkg−1; post- 2.06±0.92 Nkg−1) of the DVJ.
Conclusions Neuromuscular training can improve the stiffness characteristics of the knee joint and landing biomechanics of recreational female athletes.