RIDGEFIELD ATHLETE PROJECT
Greg Herzog of OSTEOPATHIC FITNESS® has designed a Ridgefield Sports ACL INJURY PREVENTION PROGRAM to help reduce injuries caused by weakness or imbalances to boys and girls in Ridgefield Middle School and High School Sports.
Like many Ridgefield teenager athletes deeply involved in sports, Ridgefield Sports players travel like professional athletes in their early teens.
It is not uncommon that a team with 18 players can suffer up to eight A.C.L. tears- eight during high-school years: or chronic ankle problems.
ACL Injury Prevention Program
The A.C.L. is a small, rubber-band-like fiber, no bigger than a little finger that attaches to the femur in the upper leg and the tibia in the lower leg and stabilizes the knee. When it ruptures, the reconstructive surgery is complicated and the rehabilitation painful and long. It usually takes six to nine months to return to competition, even for professional athletes.
“Just because a kid is good at a sport does not mean he or she has the foundational strength or movement patterns to stand up to constant play,” Mr. Herzog says. “What I’d like to be able to say is: ‘Before you engage in a sport like lacrosse, I am going to teach you how to move. And I am going to give you strength.”
Herzog’s Ridgefield Sports program has direct parallels with the research focused on biomechanics (the way athletes move) in no small part because gait patterns can be modified, unlike anatomical characteristics like wider hips.
Herzog points out that in his empirical research, boys and girls athletes have insufficient core muscle strength, balance or overall coordination to play safely. Their movement patterns put their knees and probably their ankles, hips and backs at risk.
One goal is to strengthen abdominal muscles, which help set the whole body in protective athletic positions, and to improve balance through a series of plyometric exercises forward, backward and lateral hops.
Greg stresses the importance of training boys and girls athletes as young as possible, by their early teens or even younger.
"Once something is learned neurally, it is never unlearned,” he says. “It never leaves you”.
That’s mostly good. It is why motor skills are retained even after serious injuries. But ways of moving are also ingrained, which makes retraining more difficult with the older athletes. The younger girls are more like blank slates. They’re easier to work with.