Female soccer players are prone to anterior cruciate ligament injuries of the knee, but a study has found that a specific 15-minute warm-up significantly reduced the risk of ACL injuries.
The study, presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Francisco, focused on a group of 4,564 female Swedish players ages 12 to 17. Of those players, 2,479 were randomly assigned to do a 15-minute warm-up and 2,085 were part of a control group.
The neuromuscular warm-up was done twice weekly throughout the playing season and consisted of six exercises concentrating on knee control and core stability. Injuries were assessed by doctors and physical therapists.
The warm-up group saw a 64% reduction in the rate of ACL injuries as well as drops in severe knee injuries.
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of four major ligaments of the knee that connects the knee joint bones and helps with knee stability. However, the ACL is also prone to partial and full tears when the knee is hit by some force or during stop-and-start movements or pivoting, moves often found in sports such as soccer and basketball.