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Trampoline Exercise vs. Strength Training to Reduce Neck Strain in Fighter Pilots

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Sovelius R, Oksa J, Rintala H, Huhtala H, Ylinen J, Siitonen S. Trampoline exercise vs. strength training to reduce neck strain in fighter pilots. Aviat Space Environ Med 2006; 77:20–25.

Introduction: Fighter pilots’ muscular strength and endurance are subjected to very high demands. Pilots’ fatigued muscles are at higher risk for injuries. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two different training methods in reducing muscular loading during in-flight and cervical loading testing (CLT). Methods: There were 16 volunteer Finnish Air Force cadets who were divided into 2 groups: a strength training group (STG) and a trampoline training group (TTG). During the 6-wk training period, the STG performed dynamic flexion and extension and isometric rotation exercises, and the TTG performed trampoline bouncing exercises. During in-flight and CLT, muscle strain from the sternocleidomastoid, cervical erector spinae, trapezius, and thoracic erector spinae muscles was recorded with EMG. Results: In-flight muscle strain in the STG after the training period decreased in the sternocleidomastoid 50%, cervical erector spinae 3%, trapezius 4%, and thoracic erector spinae 8%. In the TTG, the decrease was 41%, 30%, 20%, and 6%, respectively. In CLT, the results were similar. After a 3-mo follow-up period with intensive high +Gz flying, EMG during CLT was still lower than in baseline measurements. Conclusion: Both training methods were found to be effective in reducing muscle strain during in-flight and CLT, especially in the cervical muscles. There was no statistically significant difference between the training groups. Introduced exercises expand muscles’ capacities in different ways and the authors recommend both strength and trampoline training programs to be included in fighter pilots’ physical education programs.

Keywords: +Gz loading; neck injuries; neck injury prevention; strength training; trampoline

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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