Concussions may get the headlines, but ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and lower extremity injuries (knee and ankle sprains) are the primary cause of missed game and practice time in both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. That's why US Lacrosse invested in research on ACL injury prevention and developed a warm-up and exercise program, called LaxPrep, that can help to reduce an athlete’s risk of lower extremity injury.
"Preventing these injuries is a much better answer than operating on them," said Dr. Richard Hinton, team physician for the U.S. Women's National Team and an orthopaedic surgeon who performs more than 100 ACL reconstructions annually.
Hinton tells ACL patients that even in a best-case scenario, surgery won't provide them with a better knee ligament than the one they were born with. When it comes to ACL injuries, prevention is the best solution.
ACL injury prevention and research information will be just one of the agenda topics during the upcoming US Lacrosse Sports Medicine Symposium on January 20, 2017 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The one-day event, co-sponsored by MedStar Health, is designed to provide the latest lacrosse injury research and findings to members of the lacrosse and medical communities.
“We're extremely fortunate that so many well-respected medical and safety experts have agreed to share their expertise at this year’s Symposium, and we're certain that the information will be beneficial to all attendees,” said Bruce Griffin, director of the Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse.
The LaxPrep Program utilizes a three-phase warm-up routine designed to develop core strength, balance and proper landing techniques, all of which are instrumental in lowering the risk of knee injury. A commitment of just 15 minutes, 2-3 times per week, can help make athletes stronger and keep them healthier. Some studies have shown reductions of up to 82% in relative ACL injury risk.
Byron Roberts, head coach for girls’ lacrosse at Clover (S.C.) High School, is a believer.
“I am always looking for new and better ways to be proactive and to incorporate activities into our practices and offseason conditioning programs to help my players avoid injuries,” Roberts said. “After I looked into LaxPrep, there was no question that I was going to implement the program with my players.”
US Lacrosse has created an online training tutorial to assist coaches, athletic trainers, and other team leaders in learning the LaxPrep program and how to implement the exercises with players. The entire online training session takes 45-60 minutes, and is free to US Lacrosse members. The course fee for non-members is $50.
“I found the online tutorial to be really helpful,” Roberts said. “It is easy to navigate and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow.”
One of the keys in the LaxPrep routine is the use of dynamic warm-up exercises before each of the three program phases. It is recommended that each athlete utilize a therapy resistance band to assist in the exercises. The bands are available for purchase online.
Roberts introduced his team to the exercises this past fall by beginning with an emphasis on form and technique. He gradually added the use of the resistance bands to build strength. The feedback from his players has been very positive.
“The girls are enjoying the program. It gives our preseason conditioning some structure and I feel like they understand that they are doing more than just warming up because they see a bigger purpose in what we are doing,” Roberts said.
“They work hard to improve their skills and I want to make sure I do my part to help them stay healthy so that they can fully enjoy what they do.”