The Tamarac Center for Health and Wellness in Fremont, MI recently hosted a seminar presented by Whitney Kalajainen, a Physical Therapist from Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital. The information presented was for coaches and trainers of athletes of all levels. Physical Therapists are taking a much more active role in not only treating injuries but developing training programs to prevent them. The program that was presented was the PEP program of the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation, http://smsmf.org/pep-program. Research has shown a significant reduction in the number of knee injuries including season ending ACL tears with the adoption of these techniques. One such program boasts a 40 % reduction in their incidence.
The program involves instruction of the athletes with a focus on proper leg alignment during jumping, landing, and pivot movements. Proper technique is the key to prevention. Also, specific exercises are taught to strengthen both the quadriceps and hamstrings. Muscles are conditioned through specific balance moves which all protect the knee. All of these exercises can be adopted by a team and made part of their functional warm-up prior to each game and practice. “Practice time is valuable, but with slight modification of our functional warm-up we can significantly increase the safety of our players. We’ve all either known someone or heard about these devastating injuries. It’s encouraging that we as coaches can do something towards their prevention,” commented Coach Heger.