Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimated 265 million players world-wide. As the number of soccer players increases with the population, the number of injuries may rise as well. The most common injuries occur in the foot and ankle. Neuromuscular training with balance boards has been shown to reduce soccer injuries. This proprioceptive training is thought to improve the reflexive stabilizing system between the ligaments and muscles that help prevent ligament injuries.

Canadian researchers investigated the preventive effects of a 1-year neuromuscular training program among 82 community youth soccer teams that were randomly assigned to either a neuromuscular training group or a control group. The training group included an additional 10 minutes of neuromuscular training with foam balance pads and wobble boards as part of their standard warm-up. They also completed a 15-minute wobble-board training program at home. The control group continued their usual warm-up and training program, while performing additional stretching at home.

After one year, the overall injury rate among the neuromuscular training teams was significantly reduced compared to the control group (38% fewer injuries). Specific injury rates of ankle and knee sprains were also reduced, but not significantly. This large-scale randomized controlled trial demonstrated that neuromuscular training with products such as the Thera-Band® Stability Trainer and Wobble Board may reduce injuries by one-third in young soccer players.

REFERENCE: Emery CA, Meeuwisse WH. The effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy to reduce injuries in youth soccer: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med. 2010 Jun;44(8):555-62.

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