Posts Tagged ‘injury’

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries in Female Athletes

Monday, January 18th, 2010

ACL Injury Rates

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the 4 major ligaments of the knee and also one of the most commonly injured. ACL Injuries are common in sports that involve sudden changes in direction such as football, basketball and soccer. Approximately 70% of these injuries are non-contact and occur during sudden twisting motion, pivoting or when landing from a jump. Rates of ACL tears are especially high in females, 2 to 8 times as frequent when compared to males. Research has focused on answering the question as to why females pose this increased risk.

Why Do Females have a higher risk of ACL Injury?

  • Anatomical Differences: There are many anatomic differences between males and females, including a wider pelvis and “knock knee” position, decreased size and strength of the ACL, narrower intercondylar notch (where the ACL crosses the knee joint) and hyperpronation or “flat feet”.
  • Hormonal Differences: Some researchers believe that fluctuating female hormone levels play a role in ACL injuries by increasing the laxity of the ligaments during the menstrual cycle.
  • Biomechanical Differences: Females tend to demonstrate biomechanical differences such as increased quadriceps strength and hamstring weakness, slower hamstring activation time, decreased proprioception, and landing with decreased knee flexion or “straight knees” and increased knee valgus or “knock knee” position.

What Can Be Done To Prevent ACL Injuries?

The best way found to reduce the risk of ACL injury is with the use of neuromuscular training programs which focus on plyometrics, balance, strengthening and stability exercises. Females can be screened by a physical therapist or athletic trainer to determine any deficits in order to receive instruction and training in the appropriate exercise program to decrease risk of injury.

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association

Safe Snow and Shoveling Techniques

Monday, January 18th, 2010

With winter now upon us and snow falling more frequently, we find ourselves having to shovel our sidewalks and driveways on a more regular basis. Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity which places excessive stress on the heart, low back and shoulders if not performed correctly. It is very important that we try to reduce the number of injuries that may occur from shoveling snow by practicing safe techniques.

  • Wait until the afternoon to shovel: More injuries occur in the morning when disc pressures are increased and muscles are stiff.
  • Warm up your muscles: Warm muscles work more efficiently and are less likely to be injured. Walk a few minutes or march in place and perform light stretching of the legs and arms.
  • Pick the right shovel: Choose a shovel that is lightweight, has a smaller blade and is the proper size for your height. The shovel should have a shaft that allows you to bend your knees slightly while keeping your back straight. A shovel that is too short will require you to bend more when lifting. A shovel that is too long will make the load at the end heavier.
  • Try pushing snow rather than lifting: If you are working in an area with enough space, push the snow off the area with the shovel rather than lifting or throwing it.

Snow Shoveling Safety

  • When lifting practice good body mechanics:
  1. Stand with feet at hip width for balance
  2. Hold the shovel close to your body
  3. Space hands apart to increase leverage
  4. Bend from your knees, keeping your back as straight as possible to make sure your are lifting with your legs.
  5. Tighten your stomach muscles while lifting
  6. Walk to dump the snow rather than throwing it
  7. Avoid twisting by throwing snow straight ahead and pivoting your feet.
  • Don’t over-do-it! Listen to your body. Stop immediately and seek medical help if you feel pain or experience the warning signs of a heart attack such as chest pain, neck or arm pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or breaking out into a cold sweat.

If you experience soreness after shoveling, use ice. Ice is most useful for decreasing inflammation. However, if soreness remains for more than a few days think about seeing your physician or a physical therapist. Snow shoveling may be great exercise, but it must be done correctly!

Picture source: Anchorage Daily News

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association

Preventing Baseball Injuries

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As spring approaches, so does the start of the baseball season. With this we tend to see an increase in injuries, especially shoulder and elbow problems in young baseball players. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, almost 500,000 baseball related injuries are treated in health care facilities each year. It is very important that we educate athletes, parents and coaches on how to avoid shoulder and arm injuries.

  • Athletes of all ages need to be taught to be aware of how their bodies feel. Pain is the first sign of a problem and athletes should pay close attention to any muscle twinge, tightening, or burning sensation they may experience.
  • Always take the time to warm-up and stretch. A basic stretching regimen should be used before a player picks up a ball. For example: Jog, cycle or do jumping jacks for 3-5 minutes to get the blood flowing. Then stretch slowly and gently, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Pitchers should concentrate on stretching their arms, shoulders and neck in addition to stretching their legs. Please consult a physical therapist, certified athletic trainer or other medical professional if you have questions concerning appropriate stretching programs.
  • Players should start with short tosses and gradually work up to throwing the ball a greater distance. Increasing the speed of the throw should be the last step.
  • For pitchers, remember there is a limit to the number of pitches thrown. The table below outlines the recommended maximum number of pitches based on age according to the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Staff. Reproduced with the permission of Jen Bleuter, Administrator of Research at the Cleveland Sports Health Clinic.

Recommended Maximum Number of Pitches

Age Maximum Pitches per Game Maximum Games per Week
8-10 50 2
11-12 65 2
13-14 75 2
15-16 90 2
17-18 105 2

If you experience soreness or pain after playing, apply ice to the area for 10-15 minutes to decrease inflammation, pain and muscle spasm. If pain persists for more than a few days, contact your physician or physical therapist.

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association