I’ve written before about injury prevention for ankle sprains and knee injuries and I want to show just how effective a basic injury prevention program can be. This past year, Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) High School’s soccer program implemented an ACL injury reduction program known as the FIFA 11+. The FIFA 11+ is a warm-up program that focuses on correcting the most common faulty movement patterns seen in adolescent female athletes. Those faulty movement patterns – knees collapsing inwards, relying too much on your quads, ankle instability, etc – can lead to all of your common soccer injuries like ankle sprains, shin splints, stress fractures, and knee injuries.
Studies have shown that injury prevention programs like the FIFA 11+ can reduce lower extremity injuries by up to 50% and what we saw at OPRF was no different. Over the course of the season, we saw only two stress reactions (both in year-round soccer players) and 2 minor ankle sprains that occurred because of contact with another player. Neither of those ankle sprains resulted in lost playing time. Other than that, it was a healthy season for our players’ legs. Now, I will admit that we don’t expect results to be this impressive every year, but they do help support the continued use of an injury reduction program.
With promising results like this, it’s amazing that these programs aren’t utilized in every soccer organization. There are many potential benefits and the only drawbacks are an increased time investment and a little more mindfulness from players and coaches during warmups. The key thing to remember is that these programs are only proven to be effective when the exercises are done with correct form for at least 10-12 weeks, so the earlier you begin a program like this, the better.
If you’re interested in implementing an injury prevention program with your team, there are several options.
It’s a great idea to discuss these ideas with your coaches, athletic trainers, and parents to figure out the best way to implement one of these programs.