There are several important components to a good injury prevention program. Some sports require flexibility training specifically while all sports require a combination of strengthening, explosive power, and proprioceptive activities.
Proprioception is our body’s ability to tell where a joint is at in space. When you close your eyes and bend your elbow it is the proprioceptive system that allows you to perceive what angle your arm is at. In a more functional example, if you are running down a trail and step on a rock it is the proprioceptive system that recognizes a sudden change in joint position and tells the body to turn on certain muscles and turn off others to prevent an ankle sprain. You can train your proprioceptive system by focusing on balance exercises combined with dynamic movement.
Core and hip strengthening are also imperative to injury prevention. The upper core provides a stable platform for the upper extremities to work off of while the hips and abdominals work to help control mechanics of the lower extremities. Weakness in the core and hips can lead to injuries down the chain in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and foot/ankle complex. Explosive power can be trained through the use of plyometric exercises. These activities typically involve jumping and it is important to focus on the proper take-off and landing mechanics.
A common injury in youth sports is an ACL injury with a tear to one of the major stabilizing ligaments of the knee. One example of a proven program designed for ACL injury prevention is the 11+ Injury Prevention Program. It was developed specifically for soccer players but can be easily adapted for other sports such as football, lacrosse, basketball, and volleyball. It can be incorporated into a warmup routine or performed during the offseason. This program incorporates proprioceptive, strengthening, and plyometric activities. Check out this link (http://www.yrsa.ca/pdf/Fifa11/11plus_workbook_e.pdf) for an in depth description of this program.
Give us a call to schedule an appointment for an individualized injury prevention program designed to address specific deficits or areas of need. Many of the injury prevention concepts with strengthening, proprioception, flexibility, and explosive power also apply to rehabilitating an injury and returning to sports. If you already are dealing with an injury, we would be happy to help you recover to the highest level of performance and well as do everything possible to prevent recurrence.
Seth D. Halverson DPT, OCS