Rationale and implementation of anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention warm-up programs in female athletes

Daniel P Bien
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2011, 25 (1): 271-85
The sex disparity in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury risk and the subsequent adverse effects on knee joint health, psychosocial well-being, and financial costs incurred have produced a surge in research on risk factors and interventions designed to decrease this disparity and overall incidence. Biomechanical and neuromuscular differences have been identified throughout the trunk and lower extremity that may increase noncontact ACL injury risk in female athletes. Evidence demonstrates that many risk factors are modifiable with intervention programs and that athletic performance measures can be enhanced. No universally accepted ACL injury prevention program currently exists, and injury prevention programs are diverse. Anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention programs introduced in a warm-up format offer multiple benefits, primarily, improved compliance based on improved practicality of implementation. However, drawbacks of warm-up style formats also exist, most notably that a lack of equipment and resources may preclude measurable improvements in athletic performance that foster improved compliance among participants. The purpose of this review is to analyze the current literature researching possible biomechanical and neuromuscular risk factors in noncontact ACL injury in female athletes and the most effective means of implementing critical elements of a program to decrease ACL injury risk in female athletes while improving athletic performance. Hip and hamstring training, core stabilization, plyometrics, balance, agility, neuromuscular training with video and verbal feedback to modify technique, and stretching appear to be essential components of these programs. Further research is critical to determine ideal training program volume, intensity, duration, and frequency.

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