August 5, 2009

Avoid knee injury by training brain

Training the brain may be as helpful as training muscles in preventing knee injuries, a U.S. researcher suggests.

Scott McLean of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor says experiments indicate the shift from performance to prevention training to prevent injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee may need to focus above the neck.

These findings suggest that training the central control process -- the brain and reflexive responses -- may be necessary to counter the fatigue induced ACL injury risk, McLean says in a statement.

The researchers had subjects perform one-legged squats to the point of fatigue and then tested the reactions to various jumping and movement commands. They found both legs -- not just the fatigued leg -- showed equally dangerous and potentially injurious responses.

The findings, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, suggest sharpening the brain's anticipatory skills reduces the likelihood of these dangerous responses.