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Warm-Up Reduces ACL Injury in Female Soccer Players

Program of stretching, strengthening and agility drills cut knee ligament damage, U.S. report says

FRIDAY, July 25, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- An alternative program that focuses on stretching, strengthening and improving balance and movements may help reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female college soccer players, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

The ACL is an important knee ligament. Female athletes are at greater risk for ACL injuries than males doing similar sports.

The study included 1,435 players on 61 women's soccer teams in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. For one season, 26 teams used the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) warm-up program. The other 35 teams served as a comparison group.

The PEP program, developed by the Santa Monica (Calif.) Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation, features warm-up, stretching, strengthening, and sport-specific agility exercises. It can be done without additional equipment or extensive training that may be required by other prevention programs.

Among the study's significant findings:

  • Athletes on teams using the PEP program suffered no ACL injuries, compared to six injuries on other teams.
  • Among athletes with a history of ACL injury who used the PEP program, none experienced any noncontact ACL injuries, compared to four injuries among other players with a similar history.
  • In the second half of the season, athletes using the PEP program reported no ACL injuries, compared to five injuries among other athletes.

The findings were published online this week in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

"This study shows tremendous promise for female collegiate soccer players, especially those with a history of ACL injuries," lead author Dr. Julie Gilchrist said in a CDC news release. "Enjoying sports is a great way to stay fit. And to stay healthy, we encourage coaches, athletic trainers, and athletes to consider adapting this program into their routine."

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about ACL injury.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, July 25, 2008
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