October 2020

High Schooler Creates App to Help Reduce Risk of ACL Injuries in School-aged Athletes

Research has proven that participation in stretching courses can reduce the possibility of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in play by about 72%. After implementing these stretching courses at many Chicago, Illinois, public schools in basketball and soccer, researchers found participation in them during warm-ups reduced ACL tears by 80%, knee sprains by 70%, and ankle sprains by 62%. Toward this end, Maya Malackowski, a high school student and volleyball player in the Chicago area, sought to create a solution to offer stretching exercises outside of school courses, thus making them more widely available.

The result is MayaVate, a free web-based mobile training and conditioning application designed to reduce the risk of ACL injuries in school-aged athletes. The program is comprised of static and dynamic plyometric training exercises to increase mobility and stability of the knee. Players are taught to self-train, and incentives are provided for successful, repeated use of the program. The instructional video application teaches athletes not only how to stretch their ACL correctly but also helps to motivate them to stretch every time before practice or play. Making the video into a mobile application means the exercises will be more accessible to a broader range of children and will be a fun way to complete the stretches. Additionally, MayaVate is working to spread awareness of ACL injuries in adolescent volleyball play by making the exercises something that teams and individuals want to participate in.

“As a volleyball player, I have found that ACL injuries can be career-changing and can be reduced by simply stretching before practice or play,” said Maya. “MayaVate makes stretching something fun and that you want to accomplish and be a part of.”

The application exercises are based on a program developed and shared by the Santa Monica Institute of Sports Medicine to help spread awareness and reduce the risk of knee injuries in sports.

To utilize this free application, visit app.mayavate.com.

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