Sticks And "Zones" Can Break…
Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation Offers Tips on Preventing Lacrosse Injuries
April 18, 2012
West Orange, NJ – More than 360,000 children and young adults play lacrosse making it one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States today. Although lacrosse has a lower risk of injury than many other sports, it is categorized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as a "collision sport," similar to football and ice hockey. Each season thousands of players require medical attention for injuries ranging from sprains, fractures and even concussions.
"The most common injuries are ankle and ligament sprains, knee injuries, and shin splints and stress fractures which are typically caused by overuse. However, we also see acute injuries including concussion, rotator cuff damage and fractures, which often result from a powerful hit or the force of physical contact," explained Aaron Gewant, P.T., Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.
Not surprisingly, the incidence of injury in a lacrosse game is significantly higher than in practice. Most injuries occur above the waist from a collision with another player or from the impact of a stick check or thrown ball. Approximately 40% of lacrosse injuries occur in the lower extremity as a result of pivoting or twisting.
According to Gewant, the risk of injury can't be avoided, but it can be minimized with proper training and preparedness. "Lacrosse is a demanding sport and a player should be in top physical shape while making sure to observe basic training and safety guidelines."
Kessler Institute, one of the nation's leading providers of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation services, suggests the following guidelines:
- Stay in shape all year round. Prior to the start of the season begin a graduated program of strength training and conditioning. Trying to get in shape too quickly can lead to muscle strains and other injuries.
- Make sure to warm up properly with stretching exercises and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.
- To maintain core strength, exercises should include elbow planks, side planks, push-ups, wall squats/sits, and lunges.
- Make sure to use all required equipment and do not modify pieces such as mouth guards or gloves to suite your comfort level.
- All athletes need to take a break from their sport. Ideally one or two days a week or one month a year is recommended for lacrosse players in order to prevent burn out and injuries due to overuse.
- Report all injuries to a coach, trainer, or medical professional.
In addition, players should always listen to their bodies, as well as to their physicians and trainers, before considering resuming play.
"Any injury should be reported and evaluated by a medical professional and then treated accordingly," said Gewant. "In some cases, icing the affected area and rest may be all that is needed, while other injuries will require more time and treatment, and a program of physical therapy before return to play."