ADOLESCENT INJURIES - the rising incidence and how to prevent them

Sporting injuries in adolescents – a growing epidemic!


If anyone saw the Insight program on SBS on this topic – you will know how big an issue this has become. If you haven’t seen it, it’s available on the SBS on demand app and is certainly worth your time if you’re a parent, sports fan, coach or participant yourself. 


As a 15 year old, I ruptured my ACL and tore my meniscus playing touch football. As a typical 15 year old girl, I certainly didn’t do the rehab properly, and all I cared about at the time was getting back to sport ASAP. Now, as a 30 year old trying to get my body sorted to continue playing sport, and as a physio, it’s quite clear to me how important rehabilitation programs and following the correct return to sport procedures are. 

But above all that, how great would it be if we could prevent these injuries altogether? 


Everyone knows of someone who is ‘injury prone’, or always has some injury that has never gotten better. There was a classic example of this on the SBS program. A 16 year old high level AFL player ruptured his ACL, had surgery, did the 9-12 month long rehab, then returned to AFL. In his first game back, he fractured his ankle. He went through the recovery and rehab for his ankle, returned to sport again and then ruptured his ACL for a second time. Some would say he’s very unlucky, others (me included) would say that there is quite clearly a weak link in the chain there. This could be anything, and after not seeing him personally it is hard to say for sure, but likely there is a loss of trunk control, landing control, strength, balance in his body – maybe his knee, maybe his ankle, maybe somewhere completely different, maybe a combination of these things. Some would also question why he hurt himself in the first place – was there a missing link prior to injury? The statistics would be in favour of this, saying that up to 75% of ACL injuries are preventable – a massive amount!


So how do we prevent injuries?? 


There are lots of great programs out there with proven effectiveness at reducing injuries. A well known one, developed for soccer players is called the FIFA 11+, with slightly different versions for different age groups. This incorporates running, plyometrics, strength and balance and should be incorporated into every training session. 


ACL injuries are on the rise in netball, and only 40% of players return to the same level of sport after injury. 30% do not return to sport at all. In an effort to prevent these injuries, and keep people playing sport, Netball Australia have released a ‘KNEE’ program which looks at preventing all injuries in netball (not just knee injuries). It incorporates drills around multiple factors, particularly landing error which accounts for the majority of netball injuries.


With the winter sports season upon us, it is time to brush up on what we can do about this! If you’re not sure whether this is being used at your club – ask! If they’re not sure or need some training on this, get in touch and our physios can run you through it, and add some coaching and technique tips to look for. 


So if you’re a sports participant, parent, coach, administrator and you aren’t aware of these programs, or have any questions regarding these programs, reach out to us here at Southside Physio. I myself am a registered provider of the Netball Australia KNEE program, we have multiple physios with varied sporting backgrounds and in-depth knowledge of the FIFA 11+ and other injury prevention programs. Together we can make a difference!