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The Way To Prevent ACL Injuries

High school athletes account for about 2 million injuries and around a half-million doctor visits each year according to the CDC, but few of these injuries are as costly to a student-athlete and his or her family that a torn ACL.

An ACL tear in the knee will often lead to surgery and months of rehabilitation. Often, I’ll see many of these student-athletes during post-surgery rehabilitation, but I’d much rather see them before that – when our goal is preventing this all-too common injury from happening in the first place.”

One of four major ligaments in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. An estimated 200,000 ACL injuries are reported in the U.S. each year, most commonly among athletes.

According to studies, women and girls are most susceptible to an ACL injury on the soccer pitch, while men and boys are more likely to experience an ACL injury while playing football. Despite occurring so often within aggressive contact sports, most ACL tears are non-contact injuries.

You have a student athlete plant their foot to quickly change direction, then bam, the ACL tears.  Basically, their knee turns one way and their body goes the other. You’ll see this in soccer and football, but also sports like basketball, gymnastics, skiing, and so on.

Over the years our physical therapy team at Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness have worked with countless athletes post-surgery whose rehabilitation has led to successful outcomes. But we would rather stress the importance of taking steps to prevent such injuries from happening in the first place.

Here are four things to consider for athletes of all ages:

Stretching: The flexibility of hamstrings, quads and gluteal muscles is beneficial in preventing knee injuries.

Strength: Having not just strong, but also balanced muscle integrity, especially in the hips and thighs, can put an athlete on a good track toward preventing such injuries to the knees.

A Good Warm-Up: It’s well-known that the lack of a good warmup can lead to injury, and this is certainly the case with ACL injuries. Without the right amount of blood flow, the muscles can’t react quickly enough when an athlete cuts of pivots, opening the door to injury.  In particular, we are a big fan of and teach the PEP program for prevention of ACL injuries.

Exercise Balance: In terms of exercise, it’s important athletes focus on all aspects of training: strength, endurance and flexibility. Remember to move in more than just straight lines.  Cutting and change of directions is critical for training.  Focusing on all three equally creates optimal stability in your body.

Physical therapists are specifically trained to identify weaknesses and imbalances in the body, then correct them with an eye toward both injury prevention and optimal athletic performance. If you are already having knee pain or have had an injury in the past, make sure you don’t wait until it’s too late to have a PT evaluate your movement.

 

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

What to Know about Chris Paul’s Hamstring Injury (and yours)

Everyone is going wild over the competition of the NBA Playoffs.  It’s nice to see some close games in the post season.  Can you even imagine the potential of the NBA finals without Lebron?

As much as we love the post season, it is often a common time for injury.  After all, players have played up to 82 games, not including practice, scrimmage, and workouts.  By the time of the postseason, those small regular season hiccups can build up to eventual injury.

Chris Paul was just officially pulled (no pun intended) from game 6 of the Warriors-Rockets Game due to a right hamstring strain.  The big questions is, will he return if there is a game 7?

Well, here’s what you should know about the hamstrings.  It is a huge muscle.  If you’re being fancy, the hamstrings actually consist of 3 muscles together (the semimembranosus, the semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris) It connects from your hip to your knee and is responsible for stabilizing the hip and the knee.

Without the hamstrings working at full capacity, the ability to bend the knee and extend the hip to stand tall (as when moving from a crouched or defensive position) becomes very difficult or painful.  The same movement is needed for sprinting as well, so you must to have them working to make that fast break on the court.

The big question is “how bad was the strain?” Hamstring strains can be grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3.

Grade 1 strains are mild and usually just a few muscle fibers have been damaged.  With a grade 1 strain the athlete can usually still bend their knee normally and typically are able to walk fine and maintain their normal power and endurance.  They might be sore the day after the injury still.

Grade 2 strains are moderate in nature and the athlete typically feels pain when the knee has to bend or the hip has to extend against any resistance. This usually makes sprinting pretty difficult.

Grade 3 strains are severe.  This means most of the muscle fibers are ruptured.  I don’t think Chris Paul has to worry about this. If he did, the announcement of the strain would have read, “Chris Paul Out For Remainder of Postseason”

So, what will happen in the short term to get him back on track?  Most likely his rehab team will explore the use of things like massage, ice and or heat, taping, dry needling, cupping, electrical stimulation (maybe a little prayer) to get him back on the court in the case of a game 7.  Don’t be surprised if you see him on a stationary bike courtside to keep his muscles warm when he returns.

Long term in the offseason, he will have to look at a rehab and prevention program that consists of eccentric muscle training (a muscle is holding a contraction while it lengthens) such as is done with Nordic Hamstrings Exercises.   Rehabilitating the entire lower extremity for coordination of his lower extremity muscle groups, balance, and agility will get him ready for the next season.

So, the big question is, can he return to play.  Well that just depends on how bad the strain was.  My bet is that considering the circumstances, his potential impact, and the fact that he was at least able to walk off the floor after the injury, they will figure out a way to get him back in the game.

Remember though, that is just for Chris Paul (you know, NBA star Chris Paul).  If you just suffered a hamstrings strain and a playoff series is not at risk, how about letting it rest just a little before getting back.

#kptwellness #livingwell #kptgreenville

 

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

Why Kids Shouldn’t Specialize in One Sport

Most medical experts in agreeing that young athletes generally remain mentally and physically healthier, achieve greater success, and learn to enjoy a lifetime of physical fitness when they opt to play multiple sports.

Specializing in a sport is fine, but we should be aware that allowing youth to specialize in a sport year-round can lead to burnout, a greater risk of experiencing overuse injuries, and less long-term success.

While this path has worked out for some, these stories are very rare and overlook the fact that the risks of specialization far outweigh the rewards, especially when it comes to youth athletics.

It’s been estimated that up to 60 million U.S. youths ages 6 to 18 years participate in some form of athletics. More than 5 million of these athletes experience an injury each year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 50 percent of athletic injuries are related to overuse, the types of injuries for which one-sport athletes are particularly prone.

An overuse injury happens when a bone, muscle or tendon has been put through repetitive stress without being given a sufficient amount of time to heal or repair, leading to microtraumatic damage.  Think sore pitching arms or pain in a swimmer’s shoulder that doesn’t go away, possibly keeping the athlete from competing.

The same repetitive motions year-round can, in other words, lead to such overuse injuries as strains, sprains, stress fractures, and even tears in muscles, tendons and ligaments. Playing multiple sports, in contrast, allows young athletes to challenge their bodies in different ways, developing new sets of physical traits and skills and that offer more universal performance benefits.

To help young athletes reduce the risk of developing overuse injuries and overall burnout here are a few things for parents and coaches to consider:

Encourage Diversity: Especially at an early age, encourage kids to try out and play different sports throughout the year. Some of the most successful athletes (up to 97 percent of the pros) believe being a multisport athlete was beneficial to their long-term success.

Seek Rest: Young athletes should take at least one to two days off from practice and/or structured sports participation each week. Some experts suggest limiting weekly practice to the age (in hours) of the athlete. Long-term, athletes should take 2 to 3 months off a particular sport each year to help refresh the body and the mind.

Specialize Later: Wait until at least high school age – better yet, around the ages of 16 or 17 – before considering specializing in any individual sport. At this point, the body is more prepared for such rigors.

Watch for Signs: If a young athlete complains of nonspecific problems with muscles and/or joints, physical fatigue, or grows concerned about poor performance, visit a physical therapist, who can fully evaluate the issue and offer treatment (if needed) for any potential injuries or deficiencies.

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.