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With women 6 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury in sport, I went along to see how consultants from Oxford are training sports coaches nationally in a preventative warm-up programme.

The role of a communications officer is broad and varied. We get called upon to support the department in a myriad of ways, and so it was that I found myself in a small park in Headington after work tasked with taking some photos and video footage. Of what, I wasn’t sure until I got there, but it turned out to be a fascinating and enlightening evening.

The focus of the night was the prevention of knee injuries in grassroots football. It ties in with a Sky Sports campaign running today featuring the work of Power up to Play, an initiative from the SKIPP charity. Their aim is to help prevent serious knee injuries, specifically anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in youth sports by introducing the regular use of a simple warm-up before play.

12 coaches from local girls and boys youth football teams turned up and heard first from Andy Price, Professor of Orthopaedics at NDORMS and Will Jackson, Consultant Orthopaedic Knee Surgeon at the NOC. They explained how the cases of knee injuries requiring surgery have increased 29 times in the last 20 years, but that half of these can be prevented by regular use of the warm-up programme.


Very common in girls, it was brought to the fore when England footballers Beth Mead and Leah Williamson needed ACL surgery. The injury causes problems not only when it strikes, it can leave players off the pitch for 12 months in recovery, but can also impact health in later years. So, it’s an important programme of prevention for many sports.


With the theory explained, it was down to action and Tom Jacobs, a Specialist Physiotherapist put the coaches through their paces to learn the moves. Each was given a lanyard with a summary of the warm-up, and Tom demonstrated each exercise individually pointing out what to look out for to make sure they’re being done correctly. A mix of plyometrics, strengthening, agility work and stretching, the warm-up takes roughly 10 mins to work through; a small price to pay to maintain lifelong knee health!


You can see the coaches being put through their paces to learn the exercises in this short video.