A Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Lower Body Aquatic Plyometric Training: The Development of Evidence-Based Recommendations for Practitioners
Objectives: Plyometric exercises are often prescribed for enhancing athletic performance, however, this form of training can elicit significant skeletal loading which may defer practitioners from utilizing these exercises throughout rehabilitation. Purpose: 1) complete a systematic review to critically examine the efficacy of plyometric training performed in water when compared to land for eliciting changes in musculoskeletal markers of performance, and 2) to provide evidence-based recommendations for practitioners on how best to utilize this form of training in rehabilitation and return-to-play. Methods: A systematic review was undertaken with relevant studies identified that compared changes in performance markers (e.g., strength, sprinting, and jumping) between the same aquatic- and land-based plyometric program were eligible for inclusion. Data was extracted using a standardized extraction form as confirmed by three reviewers. Data extraction included population characteristics, program design, and pre- and post- adaptations in strength, speed, and vertical jump. Results: Eight studies were included comparing performance outcomes following aquatic- and land-based plyometric training. The results of this review suggest that aquatic plyometric training is as effective as land-based plyometric training at improving lower body strength, sprint, and vertical jump performance. Conclusions: The utilization of aquatic plyometric training can be an important piece of the rehabilitation and return-to-play process in order to improve lower body strength, speed, and power while reducing the physical stress of land-based plyometric training.
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