How to Help Your Child Prevent an ACL Injury

If your child loves sports, that’s a plus in many ways. They get healthy exercise, learn team-building, and strike up friendships, to name a few. But there’s also an increased risk for injury. 

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries among young athletes are reaching epidemic proportions, and girls are especially at risk. Girls in high school and college are 2-6 times more likely than boys to sustain an ACL injury, and the injury is more likely to require surgery. Biology and biomechanics are the reason: Girls have wider hips, producing different alignment between the hips and the knees than boys, as well as less hip muscle.  

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists at The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. can help you and your child develop a training plan to lessen the chance of an ACL injury occurring. 

The ACL is the connector between the large thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). It has an important job of keeping the knee stable as it turns, twists, and pivots whenever your child moves. Naturally, during sports, your child exerts more pressure on the knees as they jump, as in basketball, or pivot and change direction quickly, as in tennis, football, or soccer. 

An ACL injury may be a sprain in which the ligament is stretched. The more serious injury is an ACL tear. When a tear occurs, it’s most often a complete tear in which the ACL is broken apart. 

Children and teens with an ACL injury are more likely to develop arthritis at an earlier age than normal, and those who have suffered a tear are at increased risk for a second tear. It’s understandable that your teen might become depressed about missing their sport and the camaraderie it brings. 

Preventing an ACL injury 

What can you do to help your child prevent an ACL injury? Here are several helpful tips.

Discuss the risks with your child and form a plan 

As the adage goes, knowledge is power. Show your young athlete articles on why they’re more at risk of an ACL injury. Explain that you’ll jointly need to develop a plan to prevent an ACL injury that could otherwise sideline them for a season. 

Have your child do research on how to prevent the injury. That way, they take ownership of the subject and are more likely to become truly active in protecting themselves. 

Work with our sports medicine specialists who design a training plan 

Our sports medicine specialists can work with you and your child to develop an individualized training plan and off-season conditioning and strength training geared toward preventing an ACL injury and other sports injuries. The training plan has several components:

Beware of overuse and fatigue 

Ask your child’s coaches what they do to assess fatigue on the field. Injuries are more common when players are tired. If your child is in weekend tournaments, make sure they get proper rest and nutrition in between games and at night. If you think your child is fatigued on the field, send a note to the coach.  

Reach out to The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. in our Toms River, New Jersey, office to work with a sports medicine specialist who can help your child prevent a serious sports injury. 

Call us at 732-242-7827 today or book an appointment online any time. You can also send our team a message here on our website.

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