Strength Training for Injury Prevention
Children who strength train consistently the right way can reduce injury risk up to 68% and improve sports performance. The highest priority to start a strength training program are early specializers (kids who only do one sport), physically inactive children, and young girls. These 3 groups are at the greatest risk for injury and re-injury, especially to their knee and ankles.
Neuromuscular Training with Strength Training
Neuromuscular training (training for balance, coordination, and agility) is just as important as strength training. Kids who just strength train do reduce their injury risk, however when neuromuscular training is added at the right times the benefits multiply. We see these benefits all the time in our clinic after physical therapy is complete. When the kids progress into the prevention phases of their program after physical therapy has helped them reduce pain, restore motion, and build some strength.
Building Sports Performance and Injury Prevention the Right Way
Once a child has healed from an injury or surgery. They must pass all functional tests with 1.) no pain, 2.) with good range of motion, and 3.) adequate strength.
Then, the 4.) Functional Restoration phase begins. This means a boy or girl should be able play, stand, walk, run, reach, bend, squat, lunge, lift, and twist with good form.
Next, 5.) Coordination requirements must be met. This is the phase where they must do all the functional movements with skill. For example, a child should squat with good form, balance, and accuracy. It is shown if this level in not achieved, the chance of re-injury is high because faulty mechanics still exist. Children should feel happy about returning to sports at this time.
6.) Agility is the next phase to be mastered. Agility is defined as Coordination at a high speed. This would look like a child who can run, start, and stop without losing his/her balance. This is an essential skill for successful return to sports. If this level is not achieved recovery limitations exist and injury / re-injury potential remains high. Confidence in youths is rising at this point.
The final phase is 7.) Athleticism. A youth sports participant should show athleticism at this stage in his progression. This is where Agility and Endurance meet. A child should be able to do a functional movement with high speed many times without fatigue. Sometimes this is where the child is a flow state. If a child can not perform at this high and level when he goes beyond the skill level he/she is at risk for injury.
Hopefully, your youth athlete never gets injured. But, if he or she suffers an injury this child must progress through all 7 levels to regain and in some cases exceed where they were before the injury happened.
Credit goes to James Ko at Indefree.com for the 7 levels LLIFE7 Matrix.
Physical Therapy Connections, P.C.