U Sports Medicine Center Expands 'ACL Protection' Program to Female Junior High, High School-age Athletes

U Sports Medicine Center Expands 'ACL Protection' Program to Female Junior High, High School-age Athletes

Jul 15, 2004 6:00 PM

The University of Utah Sports Medicine Center is expanding its ACL Protection Clinic to include female junior high and high school students who play volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, and basketball, along with recreational athletes.

The program runs from July 20 through August 26 and is designed to increase flexibility, strength, core stability, balance, and knee control to help female athletes avoid anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, according to physical therapist Barbara Fink. The cost is $120 and will include individual screening for specific vulnerabilities and recommendations.

The clinic will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 p.m. at the University of Utah Sports Medicine Center Physical Therapy Clinic, 546 Chipeta Way, Suite 230. For information or to register call Anita at (801) 231-9660.

Athletes who have had surgery for a torn ACL must be at least six months post-surgery. There will be one instructor for every five participants.

Females are prone to ACL injuries and the Sports Medicine Center began the ACL Protection Program late last year for female athletes at the U of U. But the center staff wanted to expand it to other athletes in the community.

"With the proper training, we can help younger athletes avoid ACL injuries that have such a devastating impact on their careers," Fink said.

Researchers worldwide have studied why females are prone to these injuries and have identified four factors: anatomical; biomechanical; neuromuscular; and hormonal. The U program is concentrating on neuromuscular movement--the way people control movement through their muscles--as the most likely way to prevent ACL tears.

One strategy involves modifying how an athlete pivots to quickly change direction. Many women athletes naturally point their knee inward when they pivot, not keeping it directly above the toes, which can stress and tear the ACL. The U's female athletes are being trained to point their knees outward when they pivot, to avoid straining the ACL.

Exercise regimens are devised for each player according to her sport. Soccer players, for example, undergo a 15- to 20-minute program that can be done on the field in place of the normal warm-up. Other exercise routines have been fashioned for basketball and volleyball athletes.

The Sports Medicine Center already has expanded the ACL Protection Program to the Intermountain Volleyball Association Camps.

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