A few weeks ago I posted an article about jump training, which generated some commentary, particularly in the area of landing mechanics. To clarify, at Athletic Performance Training Center, we incorporate landing mechanics training into all of our plyometric (jump) training. Research shows that most non-impact knee injuries result from landing and/or cutting instability. There is a higher prevalence among female athletes, especially those who play sports like soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
Biomechanical considerations, such as knee flexion (knees should be bent and not extended/straight upon landing); knee alignment (knees should not point inward or outward upon landing but, rather, point straight ahead); and hip motion (jump should begin with hip flexion — hips back; extend hips through the jump; and flex hips upon landing) should be closely observed.
There also some neuromuscular considerations, as strength and conditioning professionals must ensure that athletes possess adequate quadriceps and hamstrings strength to accommodate muscle co-contraction and balance in force.
Plyometric training involves multi-directional consecutive jumping. Technically correct posture and body alignment are emphasized, and athletes are instructed to land softly with knees and hips flexed while immediately preparing to jump again. However, plyometric training alone may not reduce the risk of ACL injury, but in may be more effective when combined with other types of training.
Resistance/Strength training increases strength in the muscles that support movement of the skeletal system, specifically joints. When muscles are consistently and progressively overloaded, the result is and increase in muscle size, increased motor unit recruitment, and improved coordination — all of which influence muscle strength.
Neuromuscular training, a comprehensive approach that incorporates plyometric training, strength training, balance training, and proprioceptive training (the body’s reaction/response to external stimuli), is a sound training strategy for athletes.
Training should begin with a movement-based warmup and conclude with appropriate stretching and flexibility exercises.
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