Did you know?
Serious knee injuries such as strains and tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) continue to be of concern to athletes in sports that require jumping and pivoting? Soccer players do a serious amount of jumping and pivoting! More than 1,500 of Arlington youth participate on Arlington Soccer Club teams, and are at risk!
What’s the risk?
ACL injuries often require surgery to repair, months of rehabilitation, and result in an increased risk of degenerative arthritis and other long-term issues for the athlete. The high physical, mental, emotional, and economic cost of this severe knee injury has prompted research into prevention strategies. Several prevalent studies have indicated that the number of female athletes incurring a serious ACL injury exceeds that of males by up to 8 times! That alarming statistic has caused the ASC to stand up and take notice!
What’s the solution?
Joining forces with Arlington High School’s official athletic training provider, ProEx Physical Therapy, we are taking steps in hopes of reducing this risk for our children – girls and boys alike. In September 2009, the Injury Prevention and Management Task Force was assembled within the Arlington Soccer Club (ASC) organization. We have identified a training program called the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) Program that promises improved safety to our children on the soccer field. We have piloted this program with the girls U11-U18 select team players and coaches and will expand the program in the future
The PEP Program was designed by an expert panel convened by the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation in 1999. Studies have shown continued practice of the PEP Program decreases the incidence of ACL injuries by 88%!
Research also shows that while female athletes are at greater risk for this type of injury, male athletes who adopt the PEP program in their athletic training also benefit greatly from the rewards of improved strength, flexibility and agility on the field.
While the PEP program was designed specifically to prevent non-contact ACL injuries, it may also protect the athlete from other injuries by “teaching them how to move, jump, change direction, land, etc. with proper form and technique,” according to Matt McManus, Physical Therapist and Regional Clinical Director of ProEx Physical Therapy. Once learned, these are lifelong benefits for a healthful body both on and off the field of play!
The PEP Program can be performed on the field before training sessions, without any specialized equipment.
An entire soccer team can complete the components of the program in less than 20 minutes.
The PEP program consists of several exercises: warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics (explosive-reactive power training), agility activities, and cool-down at the end of practice.
What’s on the horizon?
Since practicing proper technique is critical, we are training coaches and players! Several dozen ASC coaches and players have received PEP training from licensed physical therapists and health professionals from the ASC.
Going forward, we’d like to implement the PEP program at the start of each practice which will help protect our youth from injury now and in the years ahead.
To watch an online video of the PEP program,