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Conditioning Program Helps Prevent Youth Sports Injuries

Conditioning-related injuries most often occur at the beginning of a season when kids are most likely to be out of shape. Such injuries are preventable if, before the start of the season, your child follows a conditioning program designed specifically for the sport he is playing. Don't assume that your child is in shape to play sports simply because she is young, healthy, and appears physically fit.

Although proper conditioning will reduce the risk of injury in all sports, including baseball and soccer, it is particularly important for female athletes, who are predisposed to instability or dislocation of the kneecap (patella), pain and problems under the kneecap, and non-contact injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), especially in sports like soccer and basketball that require twisting and cutting.

Proper conditioning (especially building up hamstrings and inner quadriceps muscles) has been shown to prevent some of the ACL injuries to which females appear prone. Indeed, some experts recommend that elementary school gym classes begin teaching girls how to strengthen their leg muscles through a conditioning program as a way of avoiding knee injuries later in high school and college. Drills in which girls are taught to pivot, jump and stop with a three-step stop with the knees flexed instead of a one-step stop with the knee extended have also been shown to reduce the risk of non-contact ACL injuries in female athletes.