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Back some time ago, I saw some information on a practice/game warm-up exercise program that was supposed to reduce the risk of ACL injuries in female athletes. What ever happened with that?

You may be referring to an exercise program that was first developed by the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation. They called it the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) Program. The program consists of 19 parts that can be done by the whole team in less than 30 minutes. It was studied and found to be successful in the late 1990s. A more recent, up-to-date study was just published. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I soccer teams from around the country were included. There were 61 teams with over 1400 athletes involved. The goal was to see if this alternative warm-up program could reduce the number of ACL injuries. The specific focus was on noncontact injuries among female athletes. The exercise groups used the PEP program for 12 weeks during the regular soccer season. A training video was used to demonstrate all the exercises. The teams had to complete the PEP program at least 12 times to be included in the data analysis. Most teams reported completing an average of 25 exercise sessions. This type of neuromuscular program takes several weeks to improve strength, balance, and proprioception. Athletes reported that the program got easier as time went by. After six to 12 training sessions, the exercises were no longer perceived as physically challenging. And best of all, there was a significant reduction in new and repeat ACL injuries in exercise group. There were some limitations in the study. So more research is needed. For example, the program worked for college-level female soccer players. But what about the high school female athlete? Or female athletes in other sports such as basketball or volleyball? And future studies need to look at subgroups and see if age or experience is a factor.


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