No injury is 100% avoidable. Even with the best injury prevention program and safety precautions, athletes can still find themselves injured due to trauma, a fall or collision, or a simple mishap. However, with the right prevention, we can lower the risk of many injuries. One such type of injury that is causing great concern for the sports and medical communities are ACL injuries and general knee injuries.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, there are 150,000 ACL injuries every year. However, despite what many people may think, the majority of these injuries are not caused by contact with another player. In fact, about 70% of ACL injuries in athletes happen through normal non-contact movement of the sport. Such movement that puts increased pressure on the knee includes pivoting, sidestepping, bad landings, and other improper movements. The right kind of prevention, then, can mitigate not only the risk of this type of injury, but can also the recovery time as well.
A Proper Warm-Up Is The Key To ACL Injury Prevention
According to a study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, female soccer players who participated in a proper warm-up were less likely to sustain an ACL injury than those who chose to forgo the warm-up. Not only does a proper warm-up lower the risk for the injury in athletes, but it has a particular effect on females. Females are at a higher risk of sustaining a knee injury than their male counterparts, according to research. Therefore, a warmup exercise program is going to be more beneficial to female athletes; although this does not mean that male athletes are excused.
Such a program should include stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and agility training. The point should be to strengthen not only the knee but the supporting muscles. Muscle stabilization around the knee joint is essential to preventing any knee injury. Working on strengthening exercises that target the proper muscles or the weakest spots will help lower the risk.
However, a proper warm-up is not the only way to prevent an ACL injury. Injury assessment is essential to a successful injury prevention program. An assessment includes determining high-risk areas and potential deficits that can lead to ACL injuries. Physical therapists are those who do injury assessments and then build an injury prevention program that targets those deficits. Without this assessment, it’s difficult to determine what areas pose a risk and how to best target those areas.
With a proper warm-up and injury prevention program, athletes can avoid an ACL injury. They can also avoid the surgery that often accompanies an ACL tear. Furthermore, they can avoid the six to 12 months of recovery time needed after an ACL injury.