Preventing Knee Injury in Youth Athletes

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin

One of the most common injuries youth athletes, with females having a 4-6 time greater susceptibility, are knee and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. These injuries are detrimental both mentally and physically to any athlete and they have the potential to sideline an athlete for up to a year. But knee injuries can be prevented.

The Journal of Ortopedic and Sports Physical Therpay released a knee injury guideline in September 2018, which made recommendations on the best strategies to prevent knee and ACL injuries after looking at the vast amount of published scientific research out there on this topic.

While injuries on the playing field will occur, athletes, coaches and parents, can minimize the risk with exercise-based knee and ACL injury prevention programs before athletic training sessions or games. The routines which have show effectiveness in preventing injuries include a combination of dynamic stretches (flexibility), running drills, strength training, core strength, and plyometrics.

These routines need to be completed several times each week, with each session lasting a minimum of 20 minutes starting in the sport’s preseason and continuing through the regular season. The exercise program should include dynamic stretches or flexibility drills for all the muscles in the leg, running agility drills and bounding, strength training the muscles of the legs, bilaterally and unilaterally, working on core strength, and plyometric exercises (as addressed in our blog post last week).

All of the exercises listed in the knee injury prevention program also enhance athletes performance on the playing field. Sports performance enhancement, and injury prevention are seen when athletes and coaches comply to the protocols set in the guidelines. The number one priority for any athlete and or team training should be maximizing player health. Unfortunately, many youth athletes have a feeling of invincibility, and do not make time to train on their own, and coaches have limited time with athletes and feel a need to work on sport specific skills, or game play, that injury prevention training is overlooked.

All of the classes at No Risk Sports Performance/Parisi Speed School of RI have each component of the knee injury prevention guideline built in. You will see dynamic flexibility, bounding, running, lunging, plyometrics, etc. We also can work with your team to devise a injury prevention warm up routine incorporating these components geared towards your sport. We want our youth athletes to perform at their best and stay healthy, as we feel sports and exercise are instrumental in the physical and mental growth and development of kids.

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