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Letter: Torn knees of female athletes

Friends Academy's Krystina Iordanou clears the ball in

Friends Academy's Krystina Iordanou clears the ball in the Long Island Class C championship game at Dowling Sports Complex. Iordanou scored two goals in Friends Academy's 3-2 victory over Port Jefferson. (Nov. 10, 2012) Credit: Gregory A. Shemitz

Injury rates in youth sports continue to skyrocket, and concussions rightfully garner the bulk of media attention. But another serious problem is going virtually unnoticed.

Injuries to the ACL -- the anterior cruciate ligament -- of the knee are on the rise, especially among young female athletes. A whopping 70 percent of these injuries are estimated to be noncontact, meaning these girls are getting hurt when attempting to rapidly change direction or land from a jump -- movements that are key to lacrosse, soccer, basketball and volleyball.

A warm-up protocol exists that has been shown to reduce these injuries by up to 64 percent when performed twice a week for just 15 minutes. Yet there are coaches who are either unwilling to allocate the time or who are unfamiliar with the proper execution of the drills.

As parents, coaches and physical educators, we have to stop with the constant focus on athletic success -- complete with the specialized camps, clinics and near year-round training for a particular sport -- and get kids learning how to move properly. Early integration of conditioning drills will ultimately serve young athletes better.

Mike Mejia, Plainview

Editor's note: The writer is a member of the national STOP Sports Injuries campaign.