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The Rise of ACL Injuries in Youth & Adult Athletes: How We Can Help

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

We have been fortunate to have Architech Sports & Physical Therapy join our team at Champions Sports Performance, but it has been eye-opening seeing the amount of prepubescent athletes rehabilitating injuries. A 2011 research conducted by orthopedic surgeons from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows that anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus tears among adolescent athletes have increased dramatically over the past 12 years.

As I write this article, on September 22nd, there are two 12 year olds right now rehabbing ACL sprains inside of Champions.

Before sport, how do you & coaches determine your child’s readiness to participate? Most of the time it is by attaining a physical by your doctor. While this physical is important for assessing life-threatening conditions, it is not efficient for determining musculoskeletal health or movement efficiency.

Why is the rate of injury increasing?

Instead of going straight into solutions of “prevention” of injury; let's dive a little deeper into the thought process behind the cause of the increase in injury rates in youth athletes. The below are the trends in youth athletics:

  • Longer and more frequent practices

  • More games, matches, showcases, tournaments

  • The level of play is higher at a younger age so athletes are more likely to play the same sport for 11-12 months out of the year

  • Bad training…. Right below goes more into this one

Champions Methodology for Injury Prevention

One way our Parisi Speed School helps athletes improve their resilience to injury is by teaching proper mechanics and learning how to STOP! Martin Rooney (Check out his new book High Ten) put it perfectly. “Our athletes are crashing”. The “performance” industry is obsessed with getting young athletes super fast and only works on sprinting and power movements. The best example of this is if you take a racecar and add in a high-performance engine…. but you decide you want it to be even faster so you remove the brakes because it just weighs you down. What happens when it comes time to stop and change direction? You CRASH! This is why so many of these ACL injuries are Non-Contact. Coaches are training these athletes to go, go, go and never STOP! It is important to remember that the faster a car is going, the worse the impact is. This doesn’t mean we don’t teach acceleration and power, we just can’t forget about the proper landing and cutting techniques.

How We Use AI Technology for Injury Prevention

Now, to EFFICIENTLY change direction you need something called eccentric strength for decelerating, isometric strength for stability, and concentric strength for accelerating. This is created through proper performance training and can be measured through our Force Plate! The force plate measures three phases of a countermovement vertical jump

  1. Load: Downward Phase (Eccentric Force)

  2. Explode: Start of Upward Phase (Transfer of Force)

  3. Drive: End of Upward Phase (Prolonging Force)

Key Takeaways:

  • EXPLODE is significantly lower in the ACL Injury group when compared to the Healthy group.

  • DRIVE is significantly higher in the ACL Injury group when compared to the Healthy group

  • The LOAD to EXPLODE ratio is significantly higher in the ACL Injury group (meaning higher LOAD and lower EXPLODE) when compared to the Healthy group

  • The EXPLODE to DRIVE ratio is significantly lower in the ACL Injury group (meaning higher DRIVE and lower EXPLODE) when compared to the Healthy group

Stay in the Game

Pre-season, during the season, and post-season is the right time to train. Training is an ALL-YEAR THING. Preparing your body for sport leads to a reduction in fatigue and therefore reduction in injury. Ask us today how we can help determine your child's readiness to play sports, monitor fatigue, and improve overall movement efficiency and most importantly CONFIDENCE!

Remember in life we need to know and appreciate how to start and stop.

Logan Sandate, ATC, CSCS

Program Director of Champions Sports Performance

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