ACL Injury Prevention in the High School Athlete

young female athlete with aching knee

One of the most commonly occurring knee injuries involves the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).  This is the ligament which crosses over the internal structure of your knee, diagonally.  In concert with the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), it governs the back and forth motion of the knee joint and provides stability.

More and more people are experiencing ACL injuries and some of them are high school athletes.  Statistics show an increase in recent years, especially those gleaned from a study conducted at hospitals in the State of New York a spike of over 1,000 repairs from 1997 to 2006.

Primarily, the number of repairs has increased because surgeries addressing ACL injuries have become more sophisticated and less invasive.  Smaller incisions and faster recovery times make the prospect of repairing the ACL much less daunting, today.

High school athletes are still growing into their bodies for the most part, so it’s important that they learn to prevent injuries like this.  Let’s examine ACL injury prevention in the high school athlete, in the interest of keeping them in the game as they grow to adulthood.

A training gap.

Many coaches approach their high school team players as a renewable resource.  While training in the finer points of the game and endurance on the field are paramount, little attention is given to teaching players how to move effectively, to prevent serious injury.

Aspects of the game like squatting, running, rapid stops and starts and falling properly, take a backseat to strategy and skills specific to the sport being played.  A knowledge of body mechanics is rarely addressed and that can mean more frequent and more severe injuries.

One of the best things we can do for young people playing high school sports is to insist that coaching goes beyond strategy and skill sets and gain an adequate understanding of injury prevention.  If parents knew how little attention this area was given, I’m sure they would be worried about the safety of their kids.

Reducing the incidence.

Nowadays, high school level sports are popularly viewed as a proving ground for later professional development.  The difficult part about this is that parents and coaches tend to drive players to an almost merciless degree.  In addition, children start earlier, when their bodies haven’t been adequately prepared for this level of heated competition.

And worse still, sports-involved kids don’t take breaks.  They play a different sport for every season of the year.  When combined, these factors create the perfect storm of physiological devastation for kids who haven’t been trained to use their bodies efficiently in high-demand sports.

It’s incumbent upon coaches to possess a strong command of body mechanics knowledge and to pass this on to their players, as 70% of ACL injuries aren’t caused by impact on the field, but poor body mechanics.  Strength training can also play a critical role in ACL injury prevention in the high school athlete.

Back & Body Medical brings athletes of all kinds tailored care.  Contact us to find out more about ACL injury prevention.

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