Preventing ACL Tears in Gymnastics and Combating Overuse Injuries

It’s scary to see how many gymnasts are struggling with major knee injuries. These range from the more progressive overuse injuries such as growth plate injuries (Severs, Osgood Schlatters, Stress Fractures) or much scarier injuries that require surgery like ACL tears, traumatic meniscus tears, or OCD.

There are so many factors that go into why gymnasts struggle with these issues. They range all the way from things that you can’t change like inherent anatomy, to things we can change like workloads, landing mechanics, and more robust strength and conditioning.

Some of the really complicated factors that start to dig into human psychology and changing culture also exist. These are more ‘meta’ type issues like early specialization, year-round training, and pressures of college scholarships.

I’ve been fortunate to learn from some incredible medical providers and highly academic researchers. I’m very lucky that two of these people Lenny Macrina and Mike Reinold, sit at the desks next to me where I work at Champion Physical Therapy. They have been instrumental in teaching me about knee and other overuse injuries, working with youth athletes, and navigating highly complex scenarios.

I recently asked my boss and good friend Lenny Macrina to join me on my podcast, The SHIFT Show, to talk about the serious issue gymnastics is facing with ACL tears, low back pain, and high rates of overuse/burnout.

He is the Co-Owner of Champion, a Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, and a highly acclaimed researcher. He has done extensive work with both knee, elbow, and shoulder injuries in baseball as well as other sports. Given his experiences, he is someone that the gymnastics world can learn a ton from.

We had an incredible talk where we discuss

  • The differences between acute and overuse knee injuries
  • Ways to reduce the injury risk, and some things that are not modifiable
  • How high training hours and rigorous competition schedules influence risks
  • What coaches and parents can teach kids to help reduce knee injury risk
  • How the psychology of fear of judgment and insecurity in modern sports culture impacts young athletes

I promise this is one you do not want to miss. You can listen on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or watch the full video interview on Youtube below.

Hope it’s useful!

Lenny Macrina on Preventing ACL Tears in Gymnastics, Combatting Overuse, and Working to Change Youth Training