By Warren Potash
Teen female athletes at puberty have the following challenges that same-age males do not deal with and contribute to the up to 10 time increase in injuries; all too often ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries:
- Lack of neuromuscular spurt at puberty (as compared to males)
- Female Triad – osteoporosis, eating disorders, and amenorrhea [loss of period]
- Wider hip to knee ratio [“Q angle”]
- Jumping using quads and landing hard
- Running upright
- Possible hormonal changes
- Muscular imbalances and weaknesses
- Lax [loose] joints
- Playing sports without training
- Growth plate and joint development
- Lack of coordination
- Properties of ligaments and tendons
- Tendon response to exercise
- CNS Fatigue (Central Nervous System)
The GOOD news is that Neuromuscular Training (NMT) offers the best opportunity for every female athlete to minimize her risk for injury. Recently in 2018, T E Hewett, PhD and his colleagues published A School-Based Neuromuscular Training Program and Sport-Related Injury Incidence: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial (Journal of Athletic Training: January 2018, Vol. 53, No.1, pp 20-28). Their conclusion is “Participation in an NMT intervention program resulted in a reduced injury incidence… The protective benefit of NMT was demonstrated at both the high school and middle school levels.” [http://natajournals.org/doi/10.4085/1062-6050-173-16?code=nata-site]
In 1995, Warren Potash and his colleagues introduced their lower body stabilization training program (NMT) as integral for developing an optimal foundation for every teen female athlete to train to play sports. More than 600 teen female athletes have benefited (as well as elite pro male athletes) from our BNP-CNS Training Program (Balance, Neuromuscular control, Proprioception-Central Nervous System); i.e., our neuromuscular training program with great success.
There are numerous evidence-based research papers that have shown the beneficial effects of NMT and now, the conclusion of “reduced injury incidence…” Other valuable research shows that adults who coach do not want to include NMT in their practices. Now, Hewett has proven what W. Potash has known for decades – NMT minimizes the risk for injury for every female athlete.
Adults need to appreciate and understand why it is time for the athletes and their coaches to emphasize this approach before, &/or after practices… before the season and during the season. Local Physical Therapists and ATC’s (Certified Athletic Trainers) can provide a proper training program.
– Warren Potash was one of the first trainers to embrace lower body stabilization as being integral to training teen female athletes. W. Potash’s book: They’re Not Boys, Safely Training the Adolescent Female Athlete and he and his colleagues CEU courses online are also available at www.issaonline.edu.