Weak core muscles increase risk of ACLs and Concussions: Let’s Get Injury Prevention Right

“Arrive early for warm ups!” says every Coach ever. The smart coach uses that time well to get the kids moving.

We used to just show up to play. Now, we know that warm up is essential our players’, performance and protection from injury. Today’s youth coaches are dutifully standing by and watching their players take the time to do these drills. Everybody has a different flare and style, but in general we’re getting it so much more right. Well done, coaches! But we’ve got to do better.

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Our athletes MUST use correct movement of foot, ankle, knee, hip and trunk to protect their ACLs.

Our athletes MUST develop stronger necks, backs and upper bodies, and play with better technique to protect against concussions.

Our athletes MUST strengthen weak trunks and torsos which contribute to poor cutting and jumping mechanics (ACL risk) and result in potentially dangerous body position for heading and physical challenge (concussion risk).

Not us, you might say. Not here in the hotbeds of youth soccer — Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California — you know who you are. Here, we are strong; we train a lot – our kids workout! Soccer workouts are not compensating for the hours our kids are spending hunched in front of screens.

Do the torso test

Watch from the sidelines. Kids cannot execute those lunges you are having them do in warm-up without using their hands to push themselves up. They cannot stay upright in the challenge from the side. They buckle and collapse in their upper body in their approach to the header.

Do the sit up straight test

Watch as they slouch when they sit and sag when they’re hunched over their phones. We’ve got a problem staying upright, folks. Amazing how 10 years of technology has us favoring our ancient ancestors more than ever before. Our core muscles are weak, and they are meant to be the anchor for every movement we execute.

How do we battle core weakness?

  1. Stop calling 100 sit ups “core strengthening.” That’s abdominal strengthening, but our core goes all the way around. Front, back, sides and everything in between. We have to get after the core strength to firm up our play and to keep injuries at bay.
  2. Plank holds to the front and sides and upright partner isometric challenges both work well on the field. Medicine ball tosses and twists from standing, kettle bell swings, forward reaches with hand weights while squatting, or alternate arm and leg reaches using an exercise ball are good for home because they require simple equipment. Anything that causes the center of the body to tighten so we can reach, pull, lift or press works the core muscles.
  3. Here are 3 posts at www.Fit2Finish.com that tell you more about some of these exercises.

[+ READ: Field exercises for a strong core]

[ + READ: Plank exercises or a strong core]

[ + READ: Fitness ball exercises for a strong core]

How do we battle the screen?

Every time they type a text message they have to contract their abs. (You may want to take the challenge yourself.) Simple? yes. But it’s getting at the root of the problem. We’ve got lazy core muscles. When we sag and sit, our backs are taking the brunt it and suffering in silence until they get our attention in painful ways. We need to come to their rescue.

Injury prevention is so simple any coach can do it. We MUST. Our athletes are counting on us! 

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