By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
There is convincing evidence that major factors contributing to noncontact ACL tear risk include improper mechanics when landing from a jump or when rapidly changing direction. Training programs to reduce this risk have focused on improving landing mechanics and improving strength imbalances. Typically, these programs are incorporated into a team warm-up.
Two recently published scientific studies show that ACL injury prevention warm-up programs are very effective in reducing the risk of getting a noncontact ACL tear, and these programs lead to improved athletic performance. These are two really great reasons to utilize ACL injury prevention warm-ups for your sport.
Probably the best known of the ACL injury prevention warm-up programs is the FIFA 11+. This program is specifically designed to reduce the rate of all lower extremity injuries in soccer players, and is designed to be done twice a week and takes about 20 minutes per session. It requires no special equipment. This program has also been used for sports other than soccer with excellent success.
I’d like to now highlight two recently published scientific studies that lend further support to the use of ACL injury prevention programs.
53% Reduction In ACL Tears
The first study, published one week ago in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, focused specifically on reducing the rates of ACL tears in teams and players utilizing an ACL injury prevention program. The study utilized a statistical method called a “meta-analysis” and focused on high quality published studies. With this narrow focus the study authors note that using ACL injury prevention training programs can prevent 53% of ACL noncontact tears.
Improved Physical Performance
The second study, published last month in the journal Sports Health focused on improvements in various physical performance metrics. This was also a systematic review of available published studies, and showed improvements in force generation, coordination, posture, balance, and speed. Improvements in any of these areas would have to be viewed as desirable by participants in any movement based sport.
I have been a big believer in injury prevention programs for as long as these programs have been available. As we gather additional evidence through high-quality research we are converging on outstanding benefits of the programs: you can radically reduce the risk of noncontact ACL injuries, and you can at the same time improve physical performance.
You have everything to gain by using one of these programs and absolutely nothing to lose.