With the start of the new school year comes the beginning of fall sports. Athletes — both professionals and amateurs — are at risk for injuries if they do not properly warm up and practice injury prevention techniques.
Olympic athlete Alex Morgan knows what it is like to sustain a serious sports injury. In her senior year of high school, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.
The gold medal soccer player has teamed up with DePuy Mitek to promote sports injury prevention. She and Bert Mandelbaum, M.D., Medical Director for the U.S. World Cup Team, talked to EmpowHER about preventing sport injuries. They gave tips for athletes of all ages, including the parents of young athletes.
EmpowHER: You tore your ACL your senior year of high school. What did you learn from that experience?
Alex: Unfortunately, I tore my ACL my senior year of high school and was unable to play for the rest of the year. It was tough both physically and emotionally.
After surgery and physical therapy, I was lucky to be back on the field five months later, playing soccer in a brace. I wish I had known more about injury prevention warm-ups — such as FIFA 11+ — when I was younger.
EmpowHERWhat kinds of sports-related injuries do you commonly see? How can they be prevented?
Dr. Mandelbaum: In my role as one of the lead physicians for the U.S. National Soccer Teams and in my medical practice, I’ve worked with many athletes who have experienced sports injuries, such as the ACL tear that Alex suffered.
In addition, studies have shown that 45,000 female athletes in the U.S. — aged 19 and younger — experience a sprain or strain of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee each year (1), which is four to six times greater in females than males (2).
Research also shows that up to 35 percent of competitive soccer players (as defined by playing 2-3 games per week plus practice) suffer cartilage lesions or damage to the surface of the knee, compared to 5-11 percent of the general population (3).