Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Effects of Balance Training on Postural Sway, Leg Extensor Strength, and Jumping Height in Adolescents

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Effects of Balance Training on Postural Sway, Leg Extensor Strength, and Jumping Height in Adolescents

Article excerpt

Deficits in strength of the lower extremities and postural control have been associated with a high risk of sustaining sport-related injuries. Such injuries often occur during physical education (PE) classes and mostly affect the lower extremities. Thus, the objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of balance training on postural sway, leg extensor strength, and jumping height in adolescents. Twenty high school students participated in this study and. were assigned to either an intervention (n = 10) or control group (n = 10). The intervention group participated in a 4-week balance-training program integrated in their physical education lessons. Pre- and posttests included the measurements of postural sway on a balance platform, jumping height on a force platform, and maximal isometric leg extension force on a leg-press. Balance training resulted in significantly improved postural control, increased jumping height, and enhanced rate of force development of the leg extensors. Physiological adaptations rather than learning effects seem to be responsible for the observed findings. These results could have an impact on improving the performance level in various sports and on reducing the in jury prevalence of the lower extremities.

Key words: explosive force production, sensorimotor training, youth


In Germany, 5.4% of all high school students were injured during regular physical education (PE) lessons in 2004. Of all injuries, 54.4% occurred during ball games (e.g., soccer, basketball, volleyball, European handball; Dima, Kemeny, & Scherer, 2006). Epidemiologic data demonstrate that sport injuries most often affect the lower extremities (Steinbruck, 1999). Furthermore, adolescents are at greater risk of suffering sport injuries than younger children, with peak injury rates occurring in the oldest adolescent age group (15-and 16-year-olds; Backx, Erich, Kemper, & Verbeek, 1989; Bijuretal., 1995; Dima et al., 2006). There is evidence of an association between increases in postural sway, deficits in strength, and the occurrence of sport injuries in children, adolescents, and adults (Emery, 2005; Kambas et al., 2004; Tropp, Ekstrand, & Gillquist, 1984; Wang, Chen, Shiang, Jan, & Lin, 2006).

Adequate intervention programs in PE classes or in sport clubs may have the potential to improve strength as well as postural control and thereby reduce sport injuries. Traditionally, balance training (BT) has been used to rehabilitate ankle injuries and postural deficits. Prospective studies have shown preventive effects with respect to ankle and knee joint injuries (Caraffa, Cerulli, Projetti, Aisa, & Rizzo, 1996; Emery, Cassidy, Klassen, Rosychuk, & Rowe, 2005; Myklebust et al., 2003; Wedderkopp, Kaltoft, Lundgaard, Rosendahl, & Froberg, 1999). Recent studies have extended the existing knowledge base on the preventive effects of BT by providing new insights about the impact of BT on static and dynamic postural control as well as on force production of the leg extensors and jumping height in adults, seniors, patients, and elite athletes (Bruhn, Kullmann, & Gollhofer, 2004; Granacher, Gollhofer, & Strass, 2006; Granacher, Gruber, Strass, & Gollhofer, 2007; Gruber & Gollhofer, 2004; Gruber et al., 2007; Taube, Gruber et al., 2007; Taube, Kullmann et al., 2007; Toole, Hirsch, Forkink, Lehman, & Maitland, 2000). In addition, it has been shown that four weeks of BT has an effect on selected sport-related activities in healthy young adults (Yaggie & Campbell, 2006).

However, to our knowledge, there is no study available of the effects of BT on postural control, force production of the leg extensors, and jumping height in a high school PE setting. In addition, since the cited studies involve substantial differences in the applied BT protocols (e.g., training devices, mono-vs. bipedal stance, training volume, etc.), the reported results can only partially be compared with one another. …

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