ACL injuries affect as many as 250,000 Americans each year. These injuries are more common among teen athletes, especially females, and the rates are on the rise as the number of kids in sports today, especially sports that are at high risk for ACL injuries, is growing and they’re also playing sports year-round, which increases their risk for injuries.
While it’s not always possible to prevent an ACL tear or injury, clinicians and researchers must team up with players, parents, coaches, and athletic trainers to identify high-risk athletes to try to decrease their risk of injuries.
Athletes should also take some precautions like:
Engaging in an off-season training program: Working with a certified strength coach during the off-season to design an age-appropriate strength training program focused on improving joint range of motion, body mechanics and teaching balance and reteaching how to jump and land correctly among other skills that might help them decrease the risk of injury.
Taking a break from the sport: During the off-season, athletes should stick with conditioning and trying a low impact sport. Year-round play of the same sport can overstress athletes both mentally and physically.
Coaches should be aware of the athlete’s performance during play: During games or practices, it’s also very important to look out for signs of fatigue as players are more likely to be injured if they are experiencing fatigue. If you notice your athlete is fatigued, request they be taken out of the game briefly to rest.
It’s important that athletes, parents and coaches work together to prevent injuries. By helping athletes build a foundation and recognizing when they have hit their limits, parents and coaches can help them stay safe so even if they can’t finish the game, they can finish the season.