Injury prevention programmes – Hamstring/Ankle strains
Finding ways to reduce musculoskeletal injury rates could be considered the Holy Grail in preventative medicine. Not only does it morally and ethically feel good, insurance groups and providers enjoy reduced costs and long-term liability. From a personal perspective at KneeCare we see first hand how devastating it can be for people when they become injured. Strict cost analysis cannot fairly describe the impact an injury can have on an individual and their families and how an injury can affect someone’s quality of life.
The good news is that there is now accumulating research evidence to show impressive reductions in injury rates with respect to a variety of sports and different injury types with simple preventative interventions.
There are some curious facts regarding anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Women who participate in high-risk sports suffer these injuries at a 4-6 times greater rate than men. But there is a positive. Women who participate in a specific rehabilitation program that emphasises correct landing techniques and control of upper body, trunk and lower body position, balance, agility, functional strengthening and plyometric activities can have up to an 88% decrease in anterior cruciate ligament injuries during a single season (Pasanen et al., 2008). That is truly preventative and saves both dollars and pain.
Preventing hamstring muscles strain injuries has been of special interest to European soccer and Australian Rules football researchers and medical teams, given the high number of athletes in these sports that tear a ‘hammie’. Programmes that take into account muscle strength, endurance, power and flexibility and have a focus on agility and stabilisation exercises may reduce the number of hamstring strains (de Visser et al., 2012). This clearly saves time, money, pain and enables coaching staff to keep players participating and eligible for selection.
Ankle ligament sprains, generally of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, are another common and potentially preventable injury. Identified risk factors for lateral ankle sprain include a previous ankle sprain, reduced range of ankle motion, and poorer balance (de Noronha et al., 2006). It has been found that undertaking neuromuscular exercise training or wearing an ankle brace can each halve the risk of ankle sprain, especially after an initial ankle injury (Verhagen & Bay, 2010).
With KneeCare we can provide the individual or team with a variety of services, including comprehensive screening protocols aimed at predicting and progressing performance, as well as risk identification and injury prevention programmes.