What You Can Do About Youth Football Injuries on the Rise

Many youth are involved in football these days from your local Pop Warner league to middle school and high school leagues. Kids are playing in flag football and tackle football games and injuries are on the rise. These injuries range from concussions to overuse injuries to trauma. The statistics on youth injuries is alarming. In fact, injuries like concussions are causing some high schools to cut programs and players to stop playing.

Despite injuries, there is still going to be high involvement in football. Football is the core of many high school athletics. Young kids are brought up and trained through their local football leagues to play in high school, college and the hopes of playing in the NFL. This makes it increasingly important to educate athletes, coaches and parents about the possible injuries associated with playing football and how injuries can be prevented and what you can do if you are injured.

We’ve put together this handy guide for anyone involved in football – at any level – to be able to learn and take action to protect themselves and prevent injuries.

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ACL Injury Prevention

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
Prevent ACL Knee Injuries

Can I still ski if I have a torn ACL?

Our Brace Coaches are often asked by skiers if it’s possible to ski after they’ve suffered from an ACL injury.  The answer is yes, but a skier will need to take some steps to ensure their knee is well protected on the slopes.  The first thing you’ll want to do is meet with your doctor and make sure skiing won’t further damage your knee.  The next step will be to strengthen the muscles in your knee, which will help protect you knee joint from further injuries.  The last step  to take would be to wear a protective knee brace to ensure maximum stability for your knee joint while skiing.  Check out our article on skiing with a torn ACL for additional recommendations, including the recommendations on which knee brace to wear.

Prevent ACL injuries in Football

Common Football Injuries - Torn ACL
Common Football Injuries - Torn ACL

With football season drawing to a close, there are many players out there suffering from a torn or ruptured ACL – one of the most common football injuries.  A torn ACL can drastically affect his ability to play the sport as coordination and mobility can both be drastically impaired. Players like Willis McGahee, Donovan McNabb, and Dante Culpepper have all had their careers impacted by torn ACL injuries.

As disastrous as this injury can be for a football player, prevention is the best way to avoid sitting on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.   A knee brace is one of the best options for ACL injury prevention.  Many colleges and professional football teams are turning to the DonJoy Armor Knee Brace with FourcePoint hinge.  Check out this article to see why the Armor brace with FourcePoint hinge is great at preventing an ACL injury in football players.