No one wants to get sidelined with a ligament injury. Ankle sprains and injuries to the knee, particularly ACL injuries (anterior cruciate ligament) are common in young athletes. Is there anything you can do to prevent yourself from missing valuable playing time? Absolutely!
Learn how to move with good alignment so you protect your knees. Develop body awareness, strength, and balance to support your knees and ankles. Always jump, land, stop, and move with your knees directly over your feet. Do NOT let your knees collapse inward. Develop strength in your hips and thighs. Warm up and stretch before games and practice. Perform a variety of drills until the movement patterns are second nature and you don’t have to think about it. Say to yourself:
- Chest high and over knees
- Bend from the hips and knees
- Knees over toes
- Toes straight forward
- Land like a feather
Successful injury prevention programs may differ in specific exercises and drills but they share a common focus: improving flexibility, strength (particularly of the core, hips, and legs), balance, agility, and your ability to jump and land safely.
Don’t let a packed schedule of practices, games, and schoolwork leave you so tired that your technique gets sloppy. Rest is essential for gains to occur. Adequate sleep, rest days, and alternating hard workouts with easier workouts are all important strategies in reducing your risk of injury and making you a strong, powerful athlete.