Effects of Plyometric Training on Muscle-Activation Strategies and Performance in Female Athletes

J Athl Train. 2004 Mar;39(1):24-31.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of plyometric training on muscle-activation strategies and performance of the lower extremity during jumping exercises. SUBJECTS: Twenty healthy National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I female athletes. DESIGN AND SETTING: A pretest and posttest control group design was used. Experimental subjects performed plyometric exercises 2 times per week for 6 weeks. MEASUREMENTS: We used surface electromyography to assess preparatory and reactive activity of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis, medial and lateral hamstrings, and hip abductors and adductors. Vertical jump height and sprint speed were assessed with the VERTEC and infrared timing devices, respectively. RESULTS: Multivariate analyses of variance revealed significant (P <.05) increases in firing of adductor muscles during the preparatory phase, with significant interactions for area, mean, and peak. A Tukey honestly significant difference post hoc analysis revealed significant increases in preparatory adductor area, mean, and peak for experimental group. A significant (P =.037) increase in preparatory adductor-to-abductor muscle coactivation in the experimental group was identified, as well as a trend (P =.053) toward reactive quadriceps-to- hamstring muscle coactivation in the experimental group. Pearson correlation coefficients revealed significant between-groups adaptations in muscle activity patterns pretest to posttest. Although not significant, experimental and control subjects had average increases of 5.8% and 2.0% in vertical jump height, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The increased preparatory adductor activity and abductor-to-adductor coactivation represent preprogrammed motor strategies learned during the plyometric training. These data strongly support the role of hip-musculature activation strategies for dynamic restraint and control of lower extremity alignment at ground contact. Plyometric exercises should be incorporated into the training regimens of female athletes and may reduce the risk of injury by enhancing functional joint stability in the lower extremity.