News | Published May 29, 2014

Preventing ACL tears in young athletes

When children play sports, there is always a risk of injury. Most injuries occur to ligaments, tendons and muscles. Sprains, strains and stress fractures are the most frequent sports injuries. Torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments that provide stability to the knee) are increasing in young athletes as well, especially in girls who participate in soccer, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics, causing long-lasting effects. Those effects can extend from long-term pain, to depression from being distanced from their social network, poorer academic performance due to missed school to early-onset degenerative knee osteoarthritis.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your child safer while playing sports. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends specific types of training, specifically plyometric and strengthening exercises, that can reduce the risk of an ACL injury by as much as 72 percent, especially among young women.

Other important tips to reduce the risk of being injured while playing sports include:

  • Taking time off – Taking at least one day off each week can help the body recuperate.
  • Wearing the right gear – Pads, helmets and mouthpieces should fit properly.
  • Strengthening muscles – Conditioning exercises can strengthen muscles used in the particular sport.
  • Warming up – Stretching before and after practices and games increases flexibility.
  • Noticing any warning signs – If any pain occurs during an activity, stop and see a physician.

Although the majority of players do not get injured playing sports, taking the time to follow the above tips can help decrease the risk of sustaining an injury.