Kid’s Sport: Injury Prevention Programs
Sarah Cowgill (Physiotherapist – Burnie / Somerset)
The school year has started and with that comes the start of many sports, so I thought it was a good time to talk about injury prevention in children’s sports.
Too often kids present to the clinic with a sore knee or sprained ankle and often these injuries can be prevented.
Many sports codes are now starting to implement prevention programs which can be completed at trainings and prior to matches to help prevent these injuries. It is important for coaches to get on board and start to incorporate these programs.
Research on these injury prevention programs has found there has been a:
- 39% reduction in the risk of lower limb injuries
- 54% reduction in the risk of acute knee injuries
- 50% reduction in the risk of ankle sprains (Hübscher & Refshauge, 2013)
The main issue with these injury prevention programs is compliance. As a coach try to make the exercises fun, enjoyable and challenging. Most programs consist of a range of exercises so there is variety. Older children could also be taught the importance in completing the exercises as a way to prevent injuries. If the program is completed at the start of every training session or game the players will know what to expect and it will just become part of the training routine.
Frequency: At least twice a week (training or at home)
Time frame: 20 minutes
The FootyFirst program has been developed to reduce lower leg injuries that are common in AFL.
The program consists of a warm up, leg strengthening exercises, conditioning exercises and balance, landing and sidestepping exercise. There are 5 levels to progress through. There is specific focus on teaching and reinforcing the proper technique.
Along with the above evidence, review of the Nordic hamstring exercises (included in this program) have shown to have a 70% reduction in acute hamstring injuries (Finch et. Al.)
The program is available at http://www.aflcommunityclub.com.au/index.php?id=906 and consists of a coach’s manual and a poster for each level of exercises.
Program: The knee program (Netball Australia)
Frequency: At least twice a week
Time frame: 12-15mins
The knee program is developed by Physiotherapists to decrease the rate of knee injuries in netball. Knee injuries are common occurrence in netball with the ACL representing around 25% of serious injuries reported each year (Netball Australia National Insurance Data.) Rehabilitation form a netball injury can take 9-12 months, sometimes longer, so we can see prevention of these injuries is of great importance.
The program focusses on improving technique in 4 main areas: take off, landing, deceleration and change of direction. It does through a program of exercises working on strength, balance/landing and agility. It focusses on completing exercises with the correct technique and eliminating risky movements. There are programs for juniors, recreational levels and elite levels of players.
The program can be found at https://knee.netball.com.au/ and includes a poster for each program along with instruction videos for coaches and players.
Program: FIFA 11+
Frequency: At least twice a week
Time frame: 20 mins
The FIFA 11+ program is divided into three components focussing on running, strength, plyometric and balance exercises.
The FIFA11+ program has been shown to increase activation of the core and pelvic supporting muscles (abdominal rectus and gluteus medius) immediately after completing the program, therefore leading to a more stable base of support. The program has also seen an increase in knee strength in male competitive soccer players (FIFA Medical Network, 2019). Studies have shown that overall injury reduction from completing the program is 30% (FIFA Medical Network, 2019).
There is a kid’s version for under 14 and an adult’s version of the program.
The program can be found at https://www.fifamedicalnetwork.com/lessons/prevention-fifa-11/
Other sports could use similar exercises from these programs that are applicable for the particular sport. If you are unsure or want some specific tips on injury prevention for your chosen sport talk to one of our Physiotherapists at Coastal Physiotherapy.
1. Hübscher M, Refshauge KM. Neuromuscular training strategies for preventing lower limb injuries: what’s new and what are the practical implications of what we already know? British Journal of Sports Medicine.2013;47(15):939-940.
2. Finch C.F., Twomey D.M., Fortington L.V., Doyle T.L.A., Akram M., Elliott B.C., Lloyd D.G., Preventing Australian football injuries with a targeted neuromuscular control exercise program: comparative injury rates from a training intervention delivered in a clustered randomised controlled trial, Injury Prevention, (In Press).