Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears occur in about one in every 3000 Americans; 80% of these injuries are non-contact, often requiring surgical reconstruction. Female athletes have a higher incidence of ACL injury, likely due to biomechanical differences compared to males. Research has focused on exercise programs that help improve these biomechanics in order to prevent ACL injuries. Dr. Dan Herman MD, PhD received a research award from Thera-Band Academy to investigate the effects of a strengthening program on jump-landing biomechanics of female athletes at the University of North Carolina. The protocol utilized Thera-Band® elastic bands and exercise balls.
Initially, Dr. Herman published a study concluding that while the protocol was effective at improving strength, the biomechanics of the athletes remained unchanged. He concluded that strengthening alone was not sufficient, and set out to find what needed to be combined with the training program. His subsequent study combined the Thera-Band strengthening protocol with video-assisted feedback, and he compared the combined intervention to a group receiving feedback only. Dr. Herman and his colleagues found that the group receiving both feedback and strengthening improved their biomechanics more than the feedback-only group. The paper won the 2008 O’Donoghue award from the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, given to the best overall paper that deals with clinical based research or human in-vivo research. While the Thera-Band training protocol combined with video feedback improves lower extremity strength and biomechanics in female athletes, research must determine if the protocol is effective at actually reducing ACL injuries.