Neuromuscular control is a term commonly used to describe a combination of the nervous system and the muscular system working together to create movement. We use neuromuscular control to describe how efficient movement is. This includes the ability to generate a fast and optimal muscle firing pattern, to increase dynamic joint stability, and to perform movement patterns and skills with biomechanical efficiency.
Neuromuscular training uses specific exercise to target the neural and muscular components of movement. It is an integrate part of ACL rehab because Biomechanics (the way you move) plays an important role in ACL injuries. 70-85% of all ACL tears are sustained via a non-contact injury. Knowing how to land well when jumping or playing sport will help reduce your risk of an ACL injury.
Successful components of a neuromuscular training program include plyometrics, agility, balance, and sport specific movements. It’s easy to get carried away with creative exercises, but don’t forget the basics – land well.
Neuromuscular training programs should be done for 30 minutes a week. This can be performed as a 10-15 warm up prior to training and games.
Neuromuscular training is important to continue long-term to reduce the risk of ACL injuries by up to 50%. These programs are great because they also reduce the risk of other lower limb injuries to the knees and ankles. Neuromuscular training programs have also been proven to improve performance as well. So these programs will benefit a whole team, not just anyone who has had an ACL injury.
Neuromuscular training programs, however, do not assist in maintaining muscle strength, and they should never replace a weights based strength program. Rehabilitation following an ACL injury should continue long-term to allow the best health for your knee and reduce the risk of future knee injuries. Implementation of a neuromuscular training program is an important part of long-term care for your knees, injury or no injury.
Talk to your coach, and if you are not sure you are doing the right exercises, our SportsCare Physiotherapists can assist in developing and implementing a program that is sports specific, will reduce the risk of injury, and enhance your team’s performance.
Here are a few great resources for sport specific injury prevention programs:
The Santa Monica Sports Medicine Research group designed the PEP program, Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance. It is a great general warm-up program that has had great success in reducing ACL injury rates.
By Kate Da Silva, Physiotherapist at SportsCare and Physiotherapy Barton & Bruce.