by Sasha Kolbeck, MPT, DPT, OCS, COMT
What is the Sportsmetrics™ program? It’s first important to know what it is used for. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are common and devastating for athletes. Most ACL injuries are non-contact injuries that occur in soccer, basketball, and skiing. The peak incidence occurs in the 14 to 25-year-old. An ACL injury happens in one out of 100 highschool females. Women have a four to six times higher incidence who participate in high-risk sports such as soccer, basketball, and volleyball. In NCAA basketball, 17 of 100,000 players per day tear their ACL. For winter sports, 50 of 100,000 skiers per day will sustain the injury, and an ACL injury is the most common knee injury for World Cup skiers.
An ACL injury typically sidelines an athlete for nine to 12 months. Risk factors include decreased neuromuscular control (unconscious reaction to movement), knee inward (valgus) position, and quadricep dominance (over-reliance on the quadricep versus the hamstring). The hamstring is the “guardian” of the ACL, which research confirms males have better activation, along with better knee positioning on landing.
While 100% of ACL injuries are not preventable, injury reduction programs effectively decrease risk. Nestor and colleagues report that injury reduction programs can reduce injury by 52% in women and 85% in males. Overall, injury risk is decreased by 40-65% per multiple sources. In Norway, injury reduction programs were successfully used; and when the use of these programs decreased, the ACL injury rate increased. After reinstating the program, injury rates again decreased. The Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy and the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy determined these programs are essential for females less than 18 years old. Not only do these programs decrease injury, but they also increase performance. Despite their proven success, less than 20% of high school coaches use an injury reduction program.
An ACL injury reduction program needs to include strength, neuromuscular control, and plyometrics. A systematic review in 2014 showed three programs provided a significant decrease in non-contact ACL injury. These programs are Sportsmetrics™, Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP), and Knee Injury Prevention Program (KIPP). Only Sportsmetrics™ and PEP also increased performance. Dr. Frank Noyes, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, and researcher at Cincinnati SportsMedicine, noticed a high incidence of ACL tears in females. This high incidence led him to research to investigate as to why this exists. As reported above, he discovered that females were at higher risk due to quadricep dominance, neuromuscular control deficits, and knee valgus (inward collapse). Dr. Noyes was compelled to change this incidence, and together with colleagues, developed Sportsmetrics™ over 20 years ago.
Sportsmetrics™, a non-profit program proven by over 25 research articles, is designed to build leg strength, improve balance and stability, and perform mechanics during jumping and landing. The program is completed three times per week for six weeks. The components include dynamic warm-up (prepares the body for sport-specific activity), strengthening, jumping and plyometrics, speed and agility, and flexibility. There are also sports-specific programs within the Sportsmetrics™ program, including soccer, basketball, tennis, and lacrosse. Once an athlete has completed the full-length program, there is a condensed maintenance version—the Warm-Up for Injury Prevention and Performance (WIPP). It is 10 to 20 minutes in length and completed twice per week depending on whether an athlete is in pre-season or season. The condensed version decreases the injury rate by 46%.
Additionally, we can implement the full Sportsmetrics™ program upon a surgeon’s approval six months after ACL surgery. The patient athlete undergoes testing after completing the program to determine readiness for return to sport.
If the advantage of reduced injury rates does not attract athletes to the program, the increased performance should. Performance improvements include:
- 22% decrease in landing force (decreased by almost full body weight)
- 50% decrease in abnormal knee position
- 13% dominant and 26% non-dominant side increase in hamstring: quadriceps ratio
- 21% dominant and 44% non-dominant increase in hamstring muscle power
- 10% increase in vertical jump height—mean increase of 1.5”
Dr. Noyes and his team designed the Sportsmetrics™ program to keep an athlete in the game, enhance their performance, and allow them to excel at their sport.
Rose City Physical Therapy is a certified Sportsmetrics™ clinic site. It is an essential component of our ACL injury reduction and rehabilitation program for non-surgical and post-surgical ACL physical therapy, as well as our Lower Extremity Return to Sport testing program. Sasha Kolbeck, DPT, is Level 2 Sportsmetrics™ certified and is the program director for our ACL programs. If you or your teenager, or are a fellow medical professional and are interested in the program, please contact Sasha here or call at (503) 228-1306.