Preventing ACL injuries among girls

October 28, 2008 7:07:49 AM PDT
Injuries to the ACL, the ligament that stabilizes the knee, are on the rise among girls and young women, partly because more girls are playing sports and they're playing harder.

A new study shows how a three times a week training program can make a difference.

Soccer is one of those sports that can take a toll on the knees, especially on female athletes. That's why the soccer coach at Centereach High School makes sure his players warm-up.

"We do a one mile run each day. We do calisthenics, and then we stretch," Andrew Nardi explained.

But still, knee injuries do happen. The most common is ACL tears.

Senior Amanda Thompson injured her ACL a few weeks ago. She is out for the season.

"I've been playing so many years, I never really thought I could do that. It happened very suddenly and unexpected," she said.

While warming up is important, research now shows the best way to prevent ACL injuries is warm-ups and a training program combined.

Researcher Holly Silvers and her colleagues at the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation developed a program called "PEP" -- prevent injury, enhance performance -- to better protect knees.

"This program targets all of the muscle weaknesses, the hip muscles, the buttock muscles and low back and trunk muscles," Silvers said.

A previous study on adolescent girls showed the "PEP" program is effective in reducing ACL tears. Now, research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine shows "PEP" can dramatically decrease these injuries in women.

"We found very similar results anywhere from a 72 percent to a hundred percent reduction," Silvers said.

As more girls hit the playing field, ACL injuries are climbing, which is why prevention programs like "PEP" can make a difference.

The Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation is a non-profit. Its program can be downloaded as a document form for free at this website:

There is also an instructional dvd that costs 25 dollars. You can get a copy by e-mailing researcher Holly Silvers at

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