‘There is strong evidence that injury prevention programs can reduce knee injuries by approximately 50%’
Many sports have started their pre-season training and are building towards their winter seasons. If athletes have been affected from the COVID-19 virus there are sports medicine considerations to be aware of and professional advice may be required. If athletes are recovering from injury and unsure if they are ready to return to sport, then a review with a sports physiotherapist would be a good idea.
As we emerge from the sport limited environment of the last two years, we need to be conscious of our personal fitness levels and gently re-engage in sport in order to limit and prevent injury.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries of the knee are common in Australian sport, and in the Women’s Australian Football League (AFLW) there are about 20,000 ACL injuries sustained nationally each year. This figure accounts for about 5% of the 500,000+ women who play.
Women are reported to experience ACL injuries at more than twice the rate of men and are two times more likely to sustain a concussion injury. If you are a woman and sustain an ACL injury it is reported that you may have;
- A 4-6 times greater risk of knee joint osteoarthritis
- More than twice the risk of requiring a knee joint replacement
- 1.5 times the risk of chronic cardiovascular disease
Fortunately, there is strong evidence that injury prevention programs can reduce knee injury rates by about 50%. This sounds good but the difficulty comes in local clubs at the amateur level having knowledge of these programs, implementing them and sustaining implementation.
Some injury prevention programs across multiple codes are listed below;
A research study led by Professor Kay Crossley from La Trobe University and partnering with the Australian Football League (AFL), AFL Victoria, Medibank, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), the Australasian Collage of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) is rolling out Prep to Play across the state at the community level, and it will be delivered across Ballarat in the coming months with the aim of reducing injuries for female footballers.
I will be representing Ballarat Sports Medicine as a Sports Physiotherapist to assist our LaTrobe University colleagues to deliver this education, coaching and club support program across some Ballarat clubs.
The Prep to Play program is a supported program that implements;
- A dynamic warm up
- Football skills
- Strength exercises
The program focuses on reducing serious knee and head injuries by improving muscle function and quality of movement during change of direction and landing activities, improving the safe execution of ground balls, aerial contests, tackling and being tackled.
The components of this program contain some general fundamental exercises that are related to AFL. Sports Physiotherapists who are the experts in injury prevention, management and performance would typically implement a player and sport individualized program to achieve performance and injury prevention results.
If you are interested in learning more about the Prep to Play program or an individualized program for injury prevention, management or performance in your sport, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Luke Blunden
APA Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist
Ballarat Sports medicine