The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is urging athletes, especially footballers, to consider a new warm-up program to help reduce their increased risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine on August 2008, by the APTA, mentioned that doing specialized stretching, strengthening, agility and jumping exercises could decrease the overall rate of anterior cruciate ligament injuries among athletes.
The study evaluated the results of the NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer players who performed the Injury Prevention, Performance Improvement (PEP) program, designed by physiotherapists from the Sports and Orthopedic Medicine Group of Santa Monica, California. The people who performed the PEP program had an overall ACL injury rate 41% lower than a group of athletes who performed their regular warm-up. This was one of the largest studies conducted in the NCAA with 1,435 participating athletes.
The PEP program, an example of the many programs based on physical therapy that has been shown to have the same capacity to reduce ACL injuries among athletes, consists of agility exercises specific to the sport and addresses potential deficits in strength and The neuromuscular coordination of the stabilizing muscles. the knee joint. Spokesperson Holly Silvers also an APTA physiotherapist has mentioned that: “The program was conducted to address the deficiencies seen in female athletes, especially weakness in the lateral muscles of the hip, buttocks and the central muscles. ” These deficiencies can contribute to ACL injuries, says Silvers.
According Mark Paterno an APTA physiotherapist, who has qualified in PT, MS, MBA, SCS, ATC, and a coordinator of orthopedics and sports physiotherapy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, has published a research recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that ACL tears occur four times more frequently in women than in men who participate in the same amount of sports participation. He says that the difference in neuromuscular control, or the way our muscles contract and react, is one of the four main factors that make women more susceptible to knee injuries than men. Other discrepancies are anatomical (men and women are structurally different), hormonal (the hormonal composition of women affects the integrity of the ligament, which makes it looser) and biomechanics (the positions in which our knees meet during sports activities).
“Paterno pointed out that women tend to perform athletic tasks in a more upright position, which increases stress on parts of the knee, such as the ACL, which results in less controlled rotation of the joint,”. While men use their hamstrings more often, women rely more on their quadriceps, which puts the knee at constant risk. He also added that if women have to combat these natural tendencies, then they can go through different physiotherapy program developed by physiotherapists which will help them in to improve their strength, flexibility and coordination, as well as to counteract the incorrect existing movement patterns that can damage the joints.
Silvers notes that programs designed by the physiotherapist can teach athletes how to avoid abnormal movement patterns and decrease stress on the knee, which can include exercises to strengthen the hamstrings and core muscles. Moreover, the availability of physiotherapy home service has made it much more convenient for daily exercises.
“Whether patients are athletes or not, the physiotherapist’s experience includes not only rehabilitation and restoration of normal levels of function but also education on how to prevent new injuries,” says Silvers.
APTA is celebrating National Physical Therapy Month this October, an annual celebration designed to educate the public about the important role physical therapists and physiotherapist assistants play in the health care system.