Dr. Martha Murray, an orthopedic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, has a number of tips for preventing anterior cruciate ligament tears:
■ Use the FIFA 11+ or similar warm-up program before every practice or game.
■ Encourage preseason fitness — injury rates are higher in athletes who have not adequately prepared physically.
■ Include aerobic conditioning, strength training, and agility training exercises during practices.
■ Encourage athletes to take at least one season off from sports involving cutting and pivoting each year — two is probably better.
■ Encourage athletes to listen to their body, and decrease training time and intensity if they are having pain or discomfort.
■ Bring in a physical therapist or athletic trainer to check the athletes’ form during the exercises and with jump/landing tasks. Athletes who land in a “knock-kneed” position may be at higher risk for ACL injury and training can help minimize this. The Micheli Center for Injury Prevention in Waltham can help with this as can many local physical therapy groups if your school or team does not have an athletic trainer.
■ Keep similar age athletes playing together rather than moving younger and smaller athletes up to play with larger and more mature athletes.
■ Minimize sudden increases in activity where the athletes are more likely to become fatigued or have insufficient recovery time - for example, tournaments where multiple games played on the same weekend.
■ Make sure athletes have footwear that fits well and works for the playing surface.
Taylor C. Snow can be reached at email@example.com.