Neuromuscular training in construction workers: a longitudinal controlled pilot study
Objective Many accidents at construction sites are due to falls. An exercise-based workplace intervention may improve intrinsic fall risk factors. In this pilot study, we aimed at evaluating the effects of neuromuscular exercise on static and functional balance performance as well as on lower limb explosive power in construction workers.
Methods Healthy middle-aged construction workers were non-randomly assigned to an intervention [N = 20, age = 40.3 (SD 8.3) years] or a control group [N = 20, age = 41.8 (9.9) years]. The intervention group performed static and dynamic balance and strength exercises (13 weeks, 15 min each day). Before and after the intervention and after an 8-week follow-up, unilateral postural sway, backward balancing (on 3- and 4.5-cm-wide beams) as well as vertical jump height were assessed.
Results We observed a group × time interaction for postural sway (p = 0.002) with a reduction in the intervention group and no relevant change in the control group. Similarly, the number of successful steps while walking backwards on the 3-cm beam increased only in the intervention group (p = 0.047). These effects were likely to most likely practically beneficial from pretest to posttest and to follow-up test for postural sway (+12 %, standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.65 and 17 %, SMD = 0.92) and backward balancing on the 3-cm beam (+58 %, SMD = 0.59 and 37 %, SMD = 0.40).
Conclusions Fifteen minutes of neuromuscular training each day can improve balance performance in construction workers and, thus, may contribute to a decreased fall risk.