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New Ulm Medical Center

Helping young athletes prevent injuries and become stronger

Young athletes often want to go full speed ahead to help their teams. And that’s great, until a mix of enthusiasm and a lack of conditioning knowledge sidelines them with an injury.

That’s why Allina’s Sports Medicine team at Courage Kenney Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm offered for the first time this past summer a 10-session strength-and-conditioning program to help young athletes learn how to avoid injury and train more effectively.

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Scott Mangen (right), MS, ATR, HFS, athletic trainer for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation worked with two student athletes this summer during a strength and conditioning program designed to help area athletes maintain good health and avoid injury while participating in their sports.

The program demonstrates how Allina Health wants to help area athletes maintain good health and avoid injury while participating in their sports.

Incoming seventh to 12th graders from any sport could participate, said Scott Mangen, MS, ATR, HFS, Athletic Trainer for the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. Participants met twice a week during 90-minute sessions. There was a morning session for older high school athletes and an afternoon session for younger participants.

“The overall goal was to teach proper training guidelines and techniques which will lead to an increase in athletic performance, decrease the likelihood of injury, and increase the overall health and wellness of the student-athletes,” said Mangen. “We also covered basics on nutrition and proper rest and recovery, so hopefully after the ten sessions are up, they go away with something they can use during the school year and with all sports.”

Prevention and education

The program also stressed how to prevent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, which are knee-related injuries common in young athletes, said Mangen. These injuries may occur frequently because younger athletes do not know how to properly train, or because they have musculoskeletal inefficiencies that makes them more prone to injury, Mangen explains.

The program also helps participants increase their confidence, enhance their cardiorespiratory capacity, improve their functional range of motion, and find out why rest and recovery are important parts of strength and conditioning.

During the program, participants practiced how to improve their speed, agility and strength training. They also learned to perform plyometric—exercises involving jumping and balance drills that have shown through research to help reduce one’s risk for ACL injuries. The sessions also included a good deal of education by Mangen and a fellow athletic trainer, Tim Seifert, both of whom led the sessions.

Participants seemed to appreciate their enhanced sports and exercise knowledge. “I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback,” said Mangen. “The first few days, they weren’t familiar with strength training and how to train in general. We just emphasized education and told them they will continue to learn throughout the process.”

This past summer, Allina offered the program in the Sleepy Eye area. Mangen states, “There are plans to offer it in the future in New Ulm and perhaps other locations.