Decreasing Injury Risk
Posted June 1, 2016
By Tim Koba, MS, ATC
If you are involved with youth sports and have seen injuries suffered by the participants, you should know it doesn''t have to be that way. There have been several studies examining the effectiveness of implementing an alternative warm up specifically geared to decrease injuries. So far, the findings have been successful. Now, a study out of Canada also points out decreasing injury risk in sport saves money for the healthcare system, too.
Depending on the injury an athlete suffers, the financial, physical and mental cost can add up quickly. In the event an injury requires a surgical repair, the costs can skyrocket and the athlete may not return to participation. This lack of participation can have profound health effects if they suffer early joint pain, arthritis and inactivity leading to chronic illness or obesity. Obviously, this is a worst case scenario and the majority of injuries are relatively minor and easily treatable. Still, the possibility does exist for long term impairment. This is especially true for ACL injuries, medial elbow injuries in baseball players and shoulder labral tears.
So, if there is a chance some of these injuries can be decreased, we should take it. The good news is that while preventing all injuries is not possible, there are steps that can be taken to decrease certain ones. We know some of the global and more specific risk factors for suffering an injury. When athletes increase the intensity of their activity too quickly, they are more likely to get injured. Having already sustained an injury makes you more likely to suffer a recurrent injury.
Prior to puberty, boys and girls demonstrate similar movement patterns that change after puberty. Part of this divergence may be contributing to the increase in injuries suffered by female athletes after this time. We also know females are more likely to suffer ACL injuries and following a specific exercise program can decrease that risk.
Many studies have been conducted with soccer teams to determine the effectiveness of these programs. But, there is nothing specific about the exercises that make it special for soccer. The exercises are more global neuromuscular movements that if performed properly can improve movement quality, strength and performance metrics while decreasing the risk of injury.
Many programs are readily available for implementation, or there are community resources that are able to help. Finding and working with a qualified Athletic Trainer, physical therapist, strength coach, personal trainer or coach who understands the sport, common injuries and conditioning is a great place to start. They are able to find the research studies and programs available, demonstrate and instruct teams in how to perform the drills and be available to assess ongoing progress.
Taking the time to learn a few specific movement based exercises and drills can improve movement quality and strength. It can also lead to better, more conditioned athletes who are able to stay healthy throughout the year. With the ever increasing cost of healthcare and percentage of people with obesity, we need to do everything we can to keep people healthy and active from an early age. Incorporating injury prevention programs into a practice is a simple way to have a large impact.
About the Author
Tim Koba is an Athletic Trainer, strength coach and sport business professional based in Ithaca, New York. He is passionate about helping others reach their personal and professional potential by researching topics of interest and sharing it with others. He contributes articles on injury prevention, management, rehabilitation, athletic development and leadership.
You can connect with him on twitter @timkoba or check out his blog, www.timkoba.blogspot.com