WOMEN'S ATHLETICS: History Of Knee Injuries And Prevention #4.

Continued series of the articles that examine the programs that will help in the prevention of injuries to the knee while at the same time increasing on-the-field performance...
All Articles Are Republished With Permission From Intensitymagazine.com

" "We become what we repeatedly do. Excellence then,
is not a single act but a habit.
Greek Philosopher, 384-322 BC

Click HERE To Read Part One!
Click HERE To Read Part Two!
Click HERE To Read Part Three!
Click HERE To Read Part Five!
Click HERE To Read Part Six!
Click HERE To Read Part Seven!

So far we have examined women's athletics; suspected factors of knee injuries, extrinsic and intrinsic; and the SOAKS Program and its 5 tenets-stability, overall fitness, agility, kinesthetics, and strength. Now we will outline the program and "jump" into action.

The SOAKS Program will be divided into sections, based on the Renegade Training Format, for convenience consisting of Testing and Evaluation, Warmup (weighted and Dynamic), Form Running, Agility, Strength, General Physical Preparation (GPP), and abdominals. Today we will go over the Testing and Evaluation, and Warmup (Dyamic and Weighted).

Testing And Evaluation

These are field tests that can be conducted on the field or court. They are simple tests based on observation and/or recording the athlete's movements with a motion camera, if available. The tests are designed to be used without a lot of equipment. Readily available materials can be used to be cost effective for any level program or athletes. They are not doubleblind, PhD monitored, but rely on the coaches that have the most contact with the athletes to be able to spot weaknesses and strengths and build and correct. As Yogi said, "You can observe a lot by watching'.

The Outline Of Tests

  • Jumping:
    • Static
    • Jump and run
    • Jump and cut

  • Running:
    • Form (arm/leg/posture)
    • Run and stop
    • Run and cut

  • Stability:

  • Range Of Motion:

  • Athletic Position:
    • The starting point for all athletic movement, i.e., shortstop, linebacker, basketball defense, and soccer defender.
    • An easy way to teach:
      • With feet about shoulder width or wider, have the athlete place her hands on her knees, keeping the back straight looking at the ground. Lower the butt by bending the knee to about 45 degrees until the athlete can see ahead with the neck in a neutral position. Remove the hands, keeping back straight and knees bent. From this position, the athlete should initiate all movements-front, back, sideways, angular, landings, stopping-without straightening the legs or slumping into a curved back. Proper athletic position will enable the athlete to move in any direction, cut, stop and get into the position to make the play!

  • Jumping:
    • Consists of having the athlete jump from a 1 foot tall block or bench and watching the landing position-knee bent or straight; good athletic position (back straight, knees bent at about 45 degrees; stability-shifting from side to side. Record the results on each individual. The next test will be the jump and run-same criteria as above. Then the jump and cut.

  • Running:
    • These mechanics will consist of watching the athletes in short 20-30 yard sprints (75%) for correct arm motion-elbow bent at 90 degrees, fist going from "cheek to cheek" (from by cheek bone to buttocks); posture-relaxed face, upright moving in one plane (no side to side swaying); and leg action-in same plane, on toes, no swaying. Then the run and stop-correct athletic position on stop, stability and balance. And next the run and cut-correct athletic position, low center of gravity, stability of knees. Record the results.

  • Agility:
    • This will consist of the 'X' drill and agility ladder. Arrange 5 cones about 5 yards apart in the 'X' shape. Have the athlete start at one of the lower legs of the 'X', run to the center and then to all four legs of the 'X' touching the cones at each, always facing forward (no backpedaling, that will come later). The athlete returns to the center after each leg.
    • Look for correct athletic position, low center of gravity, knee movement on stops and turns, and stability on changes of direction. Next, have the athletes run the agility ladder one foot in each rung and then two feet in each rung. Observe as above.

  • Stability:
    • Consists of the squat and one leg reach. Have the athlete perform 10 free hand squats (note depth, stability, knee movement, balance). The one leg reach is performed by balancing on one leg and reaching with the opposite hand to touch the ground approximately 2-3' (depending upon their height) straight ahead returning to upright position between each reach. Repeat 10 times.
    • Note the knee stability, balance, and flexibility.

  • Range Of Motion (ROM):
    • Involves the hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back.
    • For the Hamstrings:
      • From a static position have the athlete, with a straight leg, raise the leg in the sagittal plane, forward and backward, noting the height.
    • For the Quads:
      • Have the athletes grab the shoe of one foot and gently pull the bent leg toward the buttocks, noticing the height. For the lower back have the athlete lie in a supine position and perform the 'Cobra' Yoga Asana (from supine extend back with hands next to shoulders until reach limit of flexibility), noting height. Sit and Reach-have athlete sit on the ground and, with straight back and legs, reach for toes or beyond. Record in inches.
    • From this simple data, we can evaluate each athlete and return to the tests after the program to compare the results and implement more work if needed in an area.

  • Warm-Up:
    • This will consist of field/court drills to improve dynamic flexibility, improve running mechanics, and can be used before each practice and/or game situation to reinforce correct central nervous system (CNS) patterns.

    • In this we are training the CNS as well as the muscles. Referring to Aristotle's quote and the one by Tommy Kono in the last article, we become what we do repeatedly. Attention must be paid to correct mechanics, posture, and CNS response to reinforce the most efficient movement patterns related to the sport. Replacing a faulty movement pattern is a lot more work than learning the movement correctly. That is why the practice sessions should always emphasize correct performance of the basics.
    • Use of the drills outlined will reinforce correct movement patterns and pay off with increased court/field performance and possibly less injuries due to faulty biomechanics.
    • Remember: the athletes will play like they practice.

  • Weighted Warm-Up:
    • This will consist of kettle bell (KB) or dumbbell (DB) swings, presses, and side presses. Kettle bells are ideal for the warm-up but dumbbells can be substituted. The swing is performed by assuming an athletic stance, with the feet a little wider than shoulder width, and the KB between the legs. Grasping the KB with both hands, swing it up to eye level using the forward thrusting of the hips to elevate the KB-this is not an arm movement-the hips and hamstrings are the initiators of the movement.
    • At eye level, control the downward swing until the KB goes between and behind the legs, pushing back the hips as if sitting down, not bending at the waist. Keep the back in neutral position at all times, using the hips and hamstrings for control-the hands are for guiding the movement, not 'muscling up' the KB. Do for 20-25 reps.
    • The one arm press involves cleaning the KB or DB to the shoulder, tightening the abs and buttocks, gripping the handle as hard as possible and pressing for 5 reps. Switch arm. These are performed in circuit-swings, one arm press right, and left, resting 45 seconds between circuits.
    • Later in the program we will add one arm swings and side presses. The one arm swings add a balance dimension to the swings-perform all reps with one arm, and then repeat with the other. The side press is similar to the one arm press excepting the athlete bends over to the side (not backwards) while pressing the KB. Start easy bends at first with the goal of a 45 degree angle to the legs as you progress.

Looking Ahead

Next we will get into the dynamic drills for flexibility and reinforcing correct movement patterns.

Click HERE To Read Part One!
Click HERE To Read Part Two!
Click HERE To Read Part Three!
Click HERE To Read Part Five!
Click HERE To Read Part Six!
Click HERE To Read Part Seven!

Charlie Newkerk