Investigation of the Effectiveness of a Preseason Strength and Conditioning “Prehab” Program for Collegiate Athletes: A Pilot Study
Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of a preseason strength and conditioning “Prehab” program on decreasing non-contact injuries and improving outcome measures of strength, agility, and balance in collegiate men’s and women’s basketball players, men’s and women’s soccer players, and women’s volleyball players.
Methods: Forty-five National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletes participated. Participants performed a 10- week Prehab program consisting of five progressive levels advancing every two weeks. Exercises included lumbopelvic stabilization, scapular stabilization, plyometric training, and sport specific exercises. Test measures were taken before and after the Prehab intervention. Outcome measures included vertical jump height, number of push-ups, front/lateral plank time, single limb stance time, back extensor endurance time, thoracic spine rotation range of motion, number of single leg squats, Cross Hop test, Single Leg Crossover test, and closed kinetic chain upper extremity stability test (CKCUEST), as well as the number of non-contact injuries.
Results: After completion of the Prehab program, participants showed significant improvement in vertical jump height, number of push-ups, front/lateral plank time, single limb stance time on the right, back extensor endurance time, thoracic spine rotation to the left, Single Leg Crossover test, and CKCUEST. Additionally, all other outcome measures showed a trend toward improvement. Participants experienced a total of 42 inseason repetitive stress injuries in the intervention year and 38 in the year after the intervention.
Conclusion: Participation in the “Prehab” program led to a reduced number of in-season non-contact injuries and significant improvements in 9 of the 11 outcomes measures of strength, agility, and balance in collegiate athletes. The lack of significance in some of the outcome measures may be due to the small sample size. A repeat of this study using a randomized-control design with a larger sample size may yield more significant results.