Exercise Program Lowers Knee Injury Risk
Strengthening Exercises Reduced Knee Injury Risk in Young Female Soccer Players in Study
Jan. 11, 2010 -- An exercise program aimed at young female soccer players
seems to reduce the risk of knee injuries in the athletes, a new study
Soccer, which has been gaining popularity for years, is a major cause of
sports-related injuries, Swedish scientists report in the Jan. 11 issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
But an intervention exercise program reduces the risk of soccer injuries,
they report in the study.
Ashkan Kiani, MD, of Uppsala Primary Care of the Uppsala County Council in
Sweden, and colleagues looked at a program they designed to reduce the risk of
soccer-related knee injuries among 1,506 female athletes aged 13 to 19.
The program featured strengthening exercises designed to improve motor
skills, body control, and muscle activation. Training sessions were integrated
into regular soccer practices and required no additional equipment, the
researchers say. Players, parents, and team leaders attended a seminar to raise
awareness of knee injuries caused by soccer.
“The most frequent and severe type of injury among soccer players is
to the legs, especially the knees,” the authors write. “The anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL) injury incidence is highest among young athletes.” They also
note the risk for ACL injuries is much greater in females.
They say knee injuries, especially ruptures of the ACL, can have long-term
consequences, including incomplete recovery and osteoarthritis of the knee.
The researchers studied the athletes in 2007. About half were on teams that
participated in the exercise program and half were not.
Three knee injuries occurred among players participating in the exercise
program, compared to 13 knee injuries among girls in the comparison group who
did not do the exercises.
Taking part in the exercise program was associated with a 77% reduction in
the incidence of any knee injury and a 90% reduction in the incidence of
non-contact knee injury, the researchers report.
“The rate of injury was not only lower among teams participating in the
preventive program, but the injuries that did occur were also less severe,” the
The exercises involved a structured warm-up program, and exercises aimed at
achieving an improved motion pattern that produces less strain to the knee
joint, the authors write. Teams were given a written training program,
including pictures illustrating the proper ways to perform the exercises, the