What is happening in the world of sports? Last week sports talk radio was abuzz over significant injuries to Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert of the NBA. Now we lose yet another sports star – future hall of famer, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees – all three stars suffered ACL tears. This rash of injuries has created much debate on the issue. People are asking why? Did the shortened pre-season lead to this rise in injury? Did the condensed schedule lead to the injury? Are these just chance freak injuries? The answer to all is yes. However, each of these injuries could have been prevented.
Many original research studies and systematic literature reviews have shown a significant reduction in ACL injuries following implementation of neuromuscular training. In fact, a systematic literature review was recently published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (March 2012). This showed that ACL injury prevention programming provides a significant reduction in ACL injury. Many others literature reviews and research papers have also shown the effectiveness of neuromuscular training programs. A shortened pre-season may have led to the increased injury rate, because players were not exposed to the pre-season neuromuscular training. Unfortunately, not all teams apply injury prevention programming as part of the workout routine.
As for the condensed season schedule; a condensed season schedule with limited recovery dates will yield higher incidence of injury. A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (2011) shows that injury rates in a short recovery group demonstrated a significantly greater overall injury rate, practice injury rate, and game injury rate compared to those in the extended recovery group. The injury rates were 6.2 times greater for overall injury, 4.7 times greater for game injury, and 3.3 times greater for practice injury in the short recovery group. That said, these injuries could have been prevented, even if neuromuscular training was not implemented during the pre-season. As the season progresses a gradual decline of neuromuscular efficiency occurs. This leads to the breakdown of mechanics and subsequent injury. ACL injuries can be prevented. Identifying faulty mechanics as the season progresses and then applying corrective techniques to fix those mechanics will go a long way in preventing non-contact ACL injuries.