UNILATERAL AND PLYOMETRIC TRAINING
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research brings to light 2 often under considered components of injury prevention, athlete preparation and rehabilitation – UNILATERAL training and PLYOMETRICS.
*Unilateral training involves loading up one side of the body at a time (e.g. single leg squats, split squats) rather than training both sides at once (e.g. squats, leg press).
*Plyometrics are where our muscles are required to produce a maximal amount of force (strength) in a short period of time (speed). Strength and speed combine to produce power (e.g. jumping, hopping).
This study found that unilateral plyometric training (when performed 2x/week for 6 weeks) was more effective in improving both single and double leg jumping performance, improving strength and improving rate of force development when compared to bilateral training (Bogdanis et al,. 2017).
The role of strength training and its benefits in injury prevention and rehabilitation have been well documented. However many coaches and clinicians limit this to bilateral strength exercises such as squats and deadlifts, and miss a crucial part of athlete management.
Most injuries for field-based athletes occur during unilateral movements performed at maximal intensity/speed. Therefore training and rehabilitation needs to be specific to this to achieve optimal outcomes and keep athletes performing at their best.
B. Health Sciences (Physio), APAM