Dose-Response Relationships of Balance Training in Healthy Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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Balance training (BT) has been used for the promotion of balance and sports-related skills as well as for prevention and rehabilitation of lower extremity sport injuries. However, evidence-based dose-response relationships in BT parameters have not yet been established.
The objective of this systematic literature review and meta-analysis was to determine dose-response relationships in BT parameters that lead to improvements in balance in young healthy adults with different training status.
A computerized systematic literature search was performed in the electronic databases PubMed, Web of Knowledge, and SPORTDiscus from January 1984 up to May 2014 to capture all articles related to BT in young healthy adults.
Study Eligibility Criteria
A systematic approach was used to evaluate the 596 articles identified for initial review. Only randomized controlled studies were included if they investigated BT in young healthy adults (16–40 years) and tested at least one behavioral balance performance outcome. In total, 25 studies met the inclusion criteria for review.
Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods
Studies were evaluated using the physiotherapy evidence database (PEDro) scale. Within-subject effect sizes (ESdw) and between-subject effect sizes (ESdb) were calculated. The included studies were coded for the following criteria: training status (elite athletes, sub-elite athletes, recreational athletes, untrained subjects), training modalities (training period, frequency, volume, etc.), and balance outcome (test for the assessment of steady-state, proactive, and reactive balance).
Mean ESdb demonstrated that BT is an effective means to improve steady-state (ESdb = 0.73) and proactive balance (ESdb = 0.92) in healthy young adults. Studies including elite athletes showed the largest effects (ESdb = 1.29) on measures of steady-state balance as compared with studies analyzing sub-elite athletes (ESdb = 0.32), recreational athletes (ESdb = 0.69), and untrained subjects (ESdb = 0.82). Our analyses regarding dose-response relationships in BT revealed that a training period of 11–12 weeks (ESdb = 1.09), a training frequency of three (mean ESdb = 0.72) or six (single ESdb = 1.84) sessions per week, at least 16–19 training sessions in total (ESdb = 1.12), a duration of 11–15 min for a single training session (ESdb = 1.11), four exercises per training session (ESdb = 1.29), two sets per exercise (ESdb = 1.63), and a duration of 21–40 s for a single BT exercise (ESdb = 1.06) is most effective in improving measures of steady-state balance. Due to a small number of studies, dose-response relationships of BT for measures of proactive and reactive balance could not be qualified.
The present findings must be interpreted with caution because it is difficult to separate the impact of a single training modality (e.g., training frequency) from that of the others. Moreover, the quality of the included studies was rather limited, with a mean PEDro score of 5.
Our detailed analyses revealed effective BT parameters for the improvement of steady-state balance. Thus, practitioners and coaches are advised to consult the identified dose-response relationships of this systematic literature review and meta-analysis to implement effective BT protocols in clinical and sports-related contexts. However, further research of high methodological quality is needed to (1) determine dose-response relationships of BT for measures of proactive and reactive balance, (2) define effective sequencing protocols in BT (e.g., BT before or after a regular training session), (3) discern the effects of detraining, and (4) develop a feasible and effective method to regulate training intensity in BT.
KeywordsTraining Session Training Period Elite Athlete Balance Training Untrained Subject
No financial support was received for the conduct of this study or preparation of this manuscript. Melanie Lesinski, Tibor Hortobágyi, Thomas Muehlbauer, Albert Gollhofer, and Urs Granacher declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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