Here’s a great article we found on ACL Injury Prevention from Dr. Kevin McIntyre of Burlington Sports Therapy. What makes this article great is it concisely describes common causes of ACL injuries, who is most likely to suffer from an ACL injury, and tips to prevent an ACL injury.
Last June we posted an entry on the prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. In that article, we learned that muscular co-contraction was very helpful in preventing an acute tear of this ligament. Today’s blog is going to review some of the more current understandings in sports medicine with respect to ACL injury and prevention, including some practical ways that coaches, parents and players can help identify those athletes at risk.
Most ACL injuries are non-contact, occurring during deceleration, landing or pivoting. In soccer, 58% of injuries are non-contact. Athletes who run and change direction in a more upright position are at more risk of ACL injury.
Females are 4 to 6 times more likely to injure their ACL (some of the points below will help to explain this difference). Hormonal changes have been shown to influence ligaments (like the ACL). Such hormonal changes occur during monthly cycles and growth spurts.
Having “loose” joints can predispose you to ACL injury. For example, a positive measure of knee hyperextension increases the odds of anterior cruciate ligament injury status five-fold. Greater knee laxity and increased general joint laxity are more prevalent in girls. As boys get older there is a trend toward decreased joint flexibility and ligament laxity. Relative to boys, girls show more joint flexibility and ligament laxity with age.
A trend toward knee valgus (pictured below) has been well established in the literature as a risk factor of ACL injury. Females tend to land from jumping in a more valgus position than males. They also tend to land harder, suggesting less muscular recruitment and thereby less stabilization of the knee.
Prevention of ACL injuries would significantly reduce the chances of arthritis in adulthood. There is an estimated ten fold increase (incidence) after ligament injury.
Active and passive flexibility training may be contraindicated for preventing ACL injuries. Flexibility training does not provide protective effects from injury as has been previously reported in the literature.
Prevention works. According to a recent study of 1435 female varsity soccer players, those who did the proper preventative exercises showed a 3 fold reduction in non-contact ACL tears. There is a growing body of research validating ACL prevention programs.
Prevent ACL Knee Injuries
In an article on CNN’s website, Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist, offers some great advice on how athletes can protect their knees from sports injuries. The preventative technique she recommends focuses on teaching athletes improved awareness of injury risk as well as promoting proper motion patterns and muscle strengthening to minimize injury. This program is called the HarmoKnee Preventative Training program and she summarizes the program as follows –
1. Warm-up: This phase involves jogging, backward jogging on the toes, high-knee skipping and two zigzagging and sliding exercises.
2. Muscle activation: This phase involves four-second contractions of major muscle groups in the lower body, including calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, groin, and hip and lower back muscles to help athletes increase awareness of individual muscle groups.
3. Balance: These exercises, which require careful form — including straight-line hip-knee-foot posture, shoulder-width apart, controlled landing on flexed knees, maintaining a low center of gravity, contraction of stomach and buttocks — should be performed slowly. They include backward and forward, single- and double-leg jumps lasting approximately 30 seconds each.
4. Strength: This phase, which requires similar form to the balance phase, including walking lunges, hamstring curls and single-knee squats with toes raised.
5. Core stability: The final phase also encourages proper form and includes sit-ups, plank on elbows and toes, and bridging (an exercise where your hips are lifted toward the ceiling and the position is held).
Dr. Jampolis notes this summary is just an outline that includes key components of a comprehensive knee injury prevention program and recommends you work with a coach or personal trainer to develop a similar program that works for you.
Click here to read Dr. Jampolis’ complete article on protecting knees from sports injuries.
DonJoy Velocity Ankle Brace - Best Selling Ankle Brace of 2009
The counts for the best selling ankle brace of 2009 are in and the winner is the DonJoy Velocity Ankle Brace.
Other top selling ankle braces for 2009 included the Aircast A60 and the Aircast Airsport.
Compex Performance US muscle stimulator
Compex launches a new muscle stimulator in the United States. The Performance US was designed for the fitness enthusiast and/or the athlete which engages in frequent competition. It features a total of 5 programs with 5 levels of progression to help competitive athletes achieve the highest level of performance.
Electrostimulation therapy has been widely used and popular among European athletes for over two decades. However, the American athlete/consumer is likely to be a bit more wary to eagerly adopt EMS technology due to similar products advertised on late-night infomercials promising to shed belly fat without leaving the couch. Just as vitamins are intended to supplement a good diet, muscle stimulators are intended to complement serious training, not replace it.
To learn more about electrostimulation with a Compex device check out www.ShopCompex.com
Prevent Runner's Knee
Chondromalacia of the patella, commonly known as Runner’s Knee, can definitely be a major pain – quite literally. It usually occurs as runners reach the 40 miles per week mark, and persists even after taking short breaks from running, which is why it tends to annoy the most dedicated of runners. Because running often works to develop the hamstring muscles faster than the quads, the power imbalance within the thigh can be enough to slide your kneecap out of its normal groove. Ouch. Runner’s knee can also occur as a result of overpronation or supination, which means turning your feet in or out too much while running.
Luckily, there are a few surefire ways to get your knees functioning better throughout your runs. Be sure to ice your knees immediately after running, for at least 15 minutes. Treat the pain with anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen or aspirin that will also help to relieve the swelling, and consult your doctor about possibly purchasing orthotics for your running shoes to balance out any foot problems.
Another way to treat Runner’s Knee is to use a knee support brace while running, such as the DonJoy Cross Strap (pictured above). These braces apply comfortable but effective pressure on the patellar tendon to help alleviate pain around the kneecap. Be sure to measure your knee before ordering to ensure that you receive a well-fitting brace that will work best for you. Using these simple methods, you can say goodbye Runner’s Knee, and get back to focusing on the marathon at hand.