High school sports are a great way to promote physical activity. They give kids a positive outlet to stay fit, a hopefully continue that lifestyle into adulthood. Participation in high school sports is on the rise, however as participation increases, so do sports-related injuries. Knee injuries are among the most common high school sports-related injuries.According to one study, knee injuries account for more than 15 percent of all high school sports injuries and often requiring expensive surgical treatment. Arguably, the most frustrating aspect of knee injuries is that once the season is lost, there is not an opportunity to replay a senior year. So it's up to coaches and trainers to better understand knee injures in high school athletes and what can be done to reduce the likelihood and severity of these injures. A recent study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal examined 20 different high schools across nine different sports both for boys and girls. The study was conducted from the 2005-2006 season through the 2010-2011 season, and included data from 11,268,426 competitions or practices. Overall, boys sustained 70.8 percent of all knee injuries, with football accounting for 62.0 percent of boys' knee injuries. This is because of the physical nature of the game, as most the knees injuries were due to physical contact. Although, girls had higher knee injury rates than boys in each sex-comparable sport.Girls' knee injuries were more often treated with surgery than boys, and overall knee injuries were significantly more likely to be treated with surgery than all other injuries. According to the study, the cost of an ACL reconstructive surgery was more than $5,000.Sometimes contact injuries are just part of the game, but sometimes they can be avoided. The authors stated that, “Our study, the largest, most nationally representative study of knee injuries among U.S. high school athletes to our knowledge, demonstrates the importance of knee injuries and the need to develop more effective injury prevention programs to reduce the occurrence of sports-related knee injuries.”To combat these problems the researchers suggested that, “As bracing has limited abilities to prevent ACL injuries, screening measures and therapies addressing neuromuscular and biochemical risk factors may be adapted to reduce ACL and other knee injuries”.On such method of screening athletes is the Functional Movement Screen. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) it is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These limitations and asymmetries increase the athlete's potential to get injured. A training program can then be developed and implemented to help address these imbalances. Teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and the United States Military use the screen system. While injuries can never be completely avoided a balanced training program and screening for movement imbalances can make the difference between playing in the game and watching on the sideline.— Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach who trains at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. For more information please visit www.KCstrength.com.