Do you have a daughter, niece, granddaughter, sister, cousin, or friend that plays youth sports? Since the implementation of Title IX legislation in 1972 allowing equal opportunity for girls and women to participate in sports, there has been a significant increase in the number of females participating in competitive sports. However, the total number of injuries has also increased. Team sports including soccer, basketball, and volleyball have shown to require lower body dynamic stability to perform repetitive cutting, jumping, and decelerating. Research shows that a female athlete’s risk of incurring a non-contact ACL injury is 2 to 8 times greater than her male counterpart. In addition, adding neuromuscular and proprioceptive exercise to an athlete’s training schedule can reduce the number of ACL injuries by 2 to 4 fold.
The PEP (Prevent injury and Enhance Performance) program, introduces a specialized training program to reduce the number of injuries sustained by young female athletes. It was first developed by the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation. The program’s goals are to:
- Avoid vulnerable positions
- Increase flexibility
- Increase strength
- Include plyometric exercises into training program
- Increase proprioception through agility drills
This prevention program consists of a warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and sport specific agilities to address potential deficits in the strength and coordination of the stabilizing muscles around the knee joint. It is important to use proper technique during all of the exercises. The coaches and trainers need to emphasize correct posture, straight up and down jumps without excessive side-to-side movement, and reinforce soft landings. Most program exercises and drills are already part of a team’s standard training. However, it will require attention to detail on the part of players, coaches and trainers.
CaliforniaPacificMedicalCenter’s team of Physical Therapists is currently implementing this program for local youth sports teams. So, if you would like to continue watching your loved ones play the sports that they enjoy at a competitive level with reduced risk of injury, please contact our team so we can help with improving their athletic futures.