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RunningSThe anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is important for the proper movement of the knee. Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be a debilitating injury to the knee. Injuries range from a small tear to completely torn and happen mainly during sports like basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, and skiing. These sports have a lot of hard and awkward landings or abrupt shift in directions which can lead to tears. In addition to the physical and psychological impact it has to your body, it also takes financial toll. However, a new study show that how teams warm up before practices and games can lower the risk of an injured knee.

Because of the growing number of these injuries, researchers have been developing programs to reduce the number. These programs are known as neuromuscular training and use a series of exercises to teach athletes how to land, change directions, plant their legs etc. These programs have been found to reduce the number of ACL tears by 50% or more.

Despite these findings, few leagues and schools across the country have adopted neuromuscular training. Not completely sure why, Dr. Eric Stewart decided to figure out what the monetary savings might be in ACL injury prevention. He and his colleagues gathered clinical trials related to neuromuscular training and used them to create a model of what would happen in a hypothetical sports league of athletes ages 14 to 22. He compared the monetary impact if they did and did not practice neuromuscular training.

First they found the average cost for surgery and rehabilitation on an ACL tear was $15,000. The incidence for those not practicing neuromuscular training was 3% which equated to about $500 per player.

They then calculated the incidence of injury dropped to 1.5% with neuromuscular training. Because many programs for this training are on-line for free the cost of training was negligible. Based on calculations they found the cost of starting a neuromuscular training program was about $1.25 per player. . . .much cheaper than visiting an orthopedic surgeon.

To give you an idea, most programs consist of 15 – 20 minutes of exercise to include marching, jumping, squatting and side-to-side shuffling. The purpose is to wake up the brain and nervous system. An example of this training is Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance (PEP) program and the FIFA 11 program. Both are free and no training is needed to teach athletes. Easy to follow videos of workouts can be found on-line for free. Below are links to their respective sites:

http://health.usf.edu/medicine/orthopaedic/smart/pep/index.htm

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/footballdevelopment/medical/playershealth/the11/index.html

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Exercising and going to the gym should leave you feeling pretty good for the most part.  I reviewed this article on-line (fitbie.msn.com) about exercises that personal trainers, exercise physiologists and physical therapists recommend you skip when working out.  These exercises can leave you sore or even injured.

  • Plow Pose – This yoga pose is meant to be soothing to the mind and body.  In this pose you lie on your back and flip your legs over your head until your feet touch the floor behind you.  However, this can put a lot of pressure and excessive flexion on the neck if not done properly.  The pressure should be on the shoulders rather than the neck.   You may opt to skip this pose or try an alternative pose.
  • Straight-Leg Lifts – Many people do this exercise to tone the abs but it is not a good exercise for the lower back.  During this move the person lies face up, lifts the legs up over the hips and then lowers them down.  During the course of this move a muscle attached to the lumbar spine pulls the lower back into hyperextension.  This squeezes the discs and can lead to herniated discs.  A safer move is the reverse crunch.
  • Deep Squat – Deep squats are similar to regular squats but in this move you bring your butt very close to your heels.  Some claim this will build more muscle but it puts extra pressure on your knees.  When doing a squat your hips should not go below your knees.  If this still causes pressure to your knees, try squatting while keeping your back against a wall for added support.
  • Power Clean – This move should be reserved for those that compete in Olympic lifting.  It is an extremely technical move and you don’t need to master this move to be in fantastic shape.  The move requires you to pull a bar from the floor and catch it at the shoulders.  Doing this move incorrectly can lead to injuries to the wrist, elbow, shoulder and back.  I personally know someone who broke their arm doing this move.  For explosive moves stick to plyometrics.
  • Knee Extension Machine – You have probably seen one of these machines at the gym.  They look like a chair that has a bar which you rest your ankles below that sits in front of you.  This exercise also puts a lot of pressure on your knees.  When you press a weighted bar at your ankles, a lot of torque is created at your knee.  Doing very light weight may be better but consider strengthening your quadriceps by climbing stairs instead.
  • Full Situp – This is another move that is hard on the back.  When a person rounds their back when doing the sit up move, pressure is put on the discs in the spine.  This move can lead to herniated discs.  A better move to work the core is the plank or half-crunch.  For more information on other ways to build your core, read this article written earlier this year:  https://notsocorporatewellness.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/back-saver-core-builder/

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