Changes in muscle activation following balance and technique training and a season of Australian football
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Objectives Determine if balance and technique training implemented adjunct to 1001 male Australian football players' training influenced the activation/strength of the muscles crossing the knee during pre-planned and unplanned sidestepping. Design Randomized Control Trial. Methods Each Australian football player participated in either 28 weeks of balance and technique training or 'sham' training. Twenty-eight Australian football players (balance and technique training, n = 12; 'sham' training, n = 16) completed biomechanical testing pre-to-post training. Peak knee moments and directed co-contraction ratios in three degrees of freedom, as well as total muscle activation were calculated during pre-planned and unplanned sidestepping. Results No significant differences in muscle activation/strength were observed between the 'sham' training and balance and technique training groups. Following a season of Australian football, knee extensor (p = 0.023) and semimembranosus (p = 0.006) muscle activation increased during both pre-planned sidestepping and unplanned sidestepping. Following a season of Australian football, total muscle activation was 30% lower and peak valgus knee moments 80% greater (p = 0.022) during unplanned sidestepping when compared with pre-planned sidestepping. Conclusions When implemented in a community level training environment, balance and technique training was not effective in changing the activation of the muscles crossing the knee during sidestepping. Following a season of Australian football, players are better able to support both frontal and sagittal plane knee moments. When compared to pre-planned sidestepping, Australian football players may be at increased risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury during unplanned sidestepping in the latter half of an Australian football season.
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport