There is a growing momentum in sports medicine to encourage athletes and their coaches to warm up in more effective ways. Born partly out of the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation’s PEP program, and spurred on by success stories such as this one, these new exercises are widely touted as simple and powerful, reducing knee surgery numbers by a substantial percentage:
These programs, formally known as neuromuscular training, use a series of exercises to teach athletes how to land, cut, shift directions, plant their legs, and otherwise move during play so that they are less likely to injure themselves. Studies have found that the programs can reduce the number of A.C.L. tears per season by 50 percent or more, particularly among girls, who tear their A.C.L.s at a higher rate than boys do (although, numerically, far more boys are affected).
The good news: these are easy-to-perform and familiar exercises which resemble the calisthenics we all learned growing up. Educating yourself or your local sports team is as simple as watching a few online videos. Yet the savings in medical care costs can be staggering, especially as you diminish the likelihood of ACL tears and their attendant recovery measures.
While a warm up run to get the juices flowing and proper stretching prior to the main work out helps to prevent muscle strains, neuromuscular training is an entirely different concept. Neuromuscular training is really nothing more than a functional core workout. Yup, that’s it! What you do in martial arts, or yoga, or pilates….these strengthening activities helps the young female soccer athlete avoid that infamous ACL tear. The muscles in the torso, abdominal wall, pelvis, and proximal thigh help the athlete to properly position the knee, which minimizes risk of ACL tear. It has been proven!!!
For some mature athletes, in addition to neuromuscular training, further measures to maximize knee longevity and function include oral supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM), platelet rich plasma (PRP) or stem cell injections, and hyluronic acid (HA) injections.
I specialize in knee surgery and orthopedic surgery in San Diego, and encourage all my patients to take every precaution they can to stay active and nimble. Please call my offices today to learn more about how you can prevent knee surgery.