Context: Imbalance in shoulder-rotator muscles has been considered a risk factor for injuries in handball. Strength training programs (STPs) may play an important preventive role.
Objective: To verify the effects of an STP using elastic bands on shoulder muscles and ball-throwing speed.
Design: Randomized and prospective controlled trial.
Setting: Exercise physiology laboratory.
Participants: Thirty-nine female handball players were randomly assigned to an experimental (EG, n = 21, 15.3 ± 1.1 y) or a control (CG, n = 18, 15.0 ± 0.8 y) group.
Intervention: The EG performed the STP with elastic-band progressive exercises for 6 wk before regular handball training, and the CG underwent only their regular training.
Main outcome measures: Before and after the STP, both groups underwent a ball-throwing-speed test and isokinetic test to assess shoulder internal- (IR) and external-rotator muscle performance.
Results: Average power values for IR muscles presented a significant group-vs-time interaction effect (F = 3.9, P = .05); EG presented significantly higher values after the STP (P = .03). Ball speed presented higher values in EG after the STP in standing (P = .04) and jumping (P = .03) throws. IR peak-torque values and balance in shoulder-rotator muscles presented no group-vs-time interaction effect.
Conclusions: STP using elastic bands performed for 6 wk was effective to improve muscle power and ball speed for young female handball players.
Keywords: isokinetics; muscle imbalance; overhead athletes; shoulder injuries; sport rehabilitation programs.