What is the science behind youth injury prevention?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the most important ligaments in the body, unfortunately it is very easily injured. Injury to either the ACL, meniscus or articular cartilage markedly increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis.
Most lower limb injuries in sports, particularly to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, are not due to contact with another player. The ACL usually tears during non-contact side stepping manoeuvres or when landing from a jump. The load on the ACL during these maneuvers exceeds its tolerances and it fails. The young athlete's stepping or landing technique has a direct effect on the load on the ligament.
For over two decades many researchers have been examining the effect of training young athletes on how to land and step without injury. Many different programs exist, mainly due to a large number of different sports played around the world. Example of such programs are the FIFA 11 + Program, for Soccer players, the Powerstep program for Rugby players and Footy First for AFL players. These programs replace traditional warm-ups, usually take 15- 20 minutes, and should be undertaken 2-3 times per week.