We have recently been exploring the topic of injury prevention in the High School aged athlete. Today I want to dig in a little deeper.
Of the close to 8 million youth who participate in high school athletics each year, nearly 1/4 will sustain some level of injury.
I want to talk about “Becky” who is a 16 year old athlete I had a chance to work with last year. Not only is she a great soccer player, but she is also heavily involved in 4-H and training horses. I first saw Becky when she was 15 after she “tweaked” her knee in a soccer game. We did a few weeks of rehab, she got feeling and moving pretty good, then returned to playing.
The next year she showed up again at our clinic, again with an injury to the same knee. She spent some time trying to rehab on her own “but things just didn’t feel right.” She went for further diagnostics and sure enough she had ruptured her ACL and went on for surgical repair.
For her, recovery was a long hard road that has significantly affected her activities during these years.
Of the 2 million injuries sustained each year, the CDC reports that “half of all sports injuries in young people are preventable.”
So how do we go about preventing these injuries from occurring?
First, we have to figure out what is leading to the injuries. Is it poor training programs, poor nutrition, early sport specialization, over-training, or is it an intrinsic factor?
These topics are all addressed in detail in “The 9 Tips to Preventing High School Injuries”
An area of great interest and significant research is preventive screens to determine who is at risk for injury, and who is not. When we know who is at risk, strategies can be put in place to address those areas of weakness.
There are a number of different screening tools available, but one in particular is getting a lot of attention. In fact it is used by most of the major professional sports organizations (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) the pre-draft combines, heavily used with the United States Military personnel particularly the Special Forces, and also many universities athletics departments.
One of the unique features to this tool is it compares individuals of the same gender, age, and sport to others just like them. So Becky would be compared to other 16 year old female soccer players. And from the results of the test Becky would be placed into one of four “risk of injury” categories (substantial, moderate, slight, normal).
This information can then be used by you as a parent, coaches, or other training personnel.
Going back to Becky...as we began working together we discovered that she had developed some weakness and altered movement patterns at her hips that put her knees into a very vulnerable situation.
….This is actually quite common in many of our adolescents athletes as they are going through the growing process….
I often go back and can’t help but wonder if she had been screened appropriately before her soccer season, if she could have avoided the initial injury that ultimately lead to her reconstruction surgery.
To learn more about how this injury screen could be of benefit to your teenage athlete please check out this video
For more strategies that you can use to help your kid stay injury free and perform better don’t forget to reserve your copy of “The 9 Tips to Preventing High School Injuries”