Girls soccer ranks No. 1 for ACL injuries; Report states coaches should do more

Doctors say 20 minute warm-up key to prevention

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. – Trainers and coaches who work with high school age athletes should encourage injury prevention training, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report found injuries to the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament have increased dramatically in the last two decades, especially among high school age girls, as more kids play organized sports.

The ACL is a ligament that gives the knee stability. The reasons why it tears are unclear, but it often happens when pivoting, stopping or turning. 

Dr. Randy Schwartzberg, Orthopedic Surgeon at the Orlando Orthopedic Center, agrees. He says it's become common to see young female patients with torn ACL's come into his office. Many of the girls where injured playing soccer.

In fact girls soccer is the No. 1 sport for ACL injuries. The report found girls are up to six times more likely than boys to tear an ACL when playing similar sports.

Schwartzberg says dynamic warm-ups can reduce that number dramatically, and he's made it his mission to get the word out.

"The message here is that some injuries can be prevented and the risk of ACL tears can be minimized," he said." This is something that parents and players should be educated about so that they can hopefully try to implement these principles."

The reason for the difference in injury numbers between girls and boys is unclear. Anatomy, landing and cutting techniques and even hormonal influences have been studied.

He says cause aside, a simple 20-minute stretching and jumping program is key to keeping kids safe. Schwartzberg endorses the FIFA 11+ program. The program developed by doctors and athletic trainers can reduce the risk of injury by 72 percent according to a paper cited in the Pediatrics Journal.

The problem, Schwartzberg says, is most high schools fail to teach or require any pre-practice or pregame techniques.

"I think most of it is a lack of knowledge," he said. "That's one of my goals that's a pipe dream, I want to be able to educate everybody about it."