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ACL Injury Prevention Program Topic of Free Seminar

Research Shows Program Can Reduce Risk of Injury by 88 Percent

Friday, March 11, 2005

A free seminar designed to introduce the basics of a program shown to decrease incidence of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, one of the most the most serious knee injuries sustained by female athletes, will be held on Monday, March 14 at University Sports Medicine (USM) in Brighton, from 7 to 8 p.m.  

The ACL Injury Prevention and Sports Conditioning Program is based on the results of a two-year clinical prevention trial among 1,400 NCAA Division I female soccer players completed by the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation. Results showed that increased flexibility, strength, proprioception, and agility can substantially reduce by up to 88% non-contact ACL tears in female athletes. Athletic trainers at USM reviewed the Santa Monica research and program results, and developed the area’s first program, which is now being organized for female varsity athletes at 12 area high schools.

According to John Burnfield, MS, ATC, director of the ACL Injury Prevention and Sports Conditioning Program at USM, the program uses a variety of simple flexibility and strengthening exercises to help prevent an injury that has sidelined many area athletes.

“Female athletes are at six to nine times greater risk than males for ACL injuries, and approximately two out of every 100 female athletes sustains an ACL tear,” Burnfield said. “We are committed to helping female athletes in this community prevent this injury, especially because the proven program is relatively easy to master.

The free seminar will offer an overview of the following key components of the ACL Injury Prevention and Sports Conditioning Program, so that athletes can try and repeat them on their own at home:

  • Warm-ups:             Jog, slides, backpedals
  • Strengthening:       Lunge walk, ball bridge, calf raise
  • Plyometrics:           Lateral, front/back and single leg hops, rebound jumps
  • Agility:                      Shuttle and pivot runs
  • Stretching               Hamstrings, quads, calves, groin and hip flexors

"We stress quality versus quantity with the girls. These exercises are so precise that they must be done properly or they will not receive any benefit at all,” Burnfield said.   

Athletes should come dressed in work out clothes and sneakers.  Participants are encouraged to call to register at 341-9150.  USM is located at 4901 Lac De Ville Blvd., Bldg D, Suite 110, in the Clinton Crossings campus.

Background on ACL and the Prevention Program

The numbers on female ACL tears are astounding. Over 1.4 million women have been afflicted in the past 10 years alone — twice the rate of the previous decade. It is estimated that more than 30,000 high school and college age females will rupture their ACL every year.  In the last 15 years, ankle sprains have decreased by 86% while knee ligament injuries have increased by 172%.

Burnfield said that while much speculation exists on the cause of the higher injury rate for ACL tears in females—hormones, biomechanics, environment are just some of the issues being studied—researchers are still unable to definitively pinpoint exact causes, and up until recently, have been unable to develop strategies to successfully reduce ACL injury occurrence among females.

“For the first time, we now have documented research that shows that specific stretching, strengthening, flexibility and balance exercises can significantly reduce injury rates,” Burnfield said. “This program works by retraining the nervous and muscle system in female athletes to be more efficient, and as a result, reduce the potential for non-contact ACL tears.”

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Germaine Reinhardt

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