Prevalence of Injury
Have you ever sustained a knee injury while participating in sport or physical activity? You are not alone! A study in the USA found that between 2008 and 2014, a total of 516,892 people between the ages of 10-19, had sustained a knee injury![1]

What happens after sustaining an Injury?
A study from Sweden analyzed 117 active female soccer players who had ACL reconstruction and compared them to 119 healthy soccer players for two years following their surgery.[2] After year two, 62% of soccer players who had ACL reconstruction had quit soccer because of a lack of trust in the knee or fear of reinjury. Furthermore, 30% of female soccer players retired from the sport due to injury.[3] This evidence shows that how an athlete moves has implications on how an athlete trains and competes. Still, uncertainty remains about the consequences in other aspects of their life. With lots of athletes getting hurt playing sports, a group of researchers came together to tackle this issue. The International Physical Literacy Association came up with a term called Physical Literacy to decrease the number of injuries happening in sports and to improve the quality of life for all.

Physical Literacy
The International Physical Literacy Association defines physical literacy as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.”[4] Physical literacy, in simple terms, is the competence, confidence, knowledge, and motivation to engage in physical activity for life. As per the International Physical Literacy Association definition and Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement, there are four essential and interconnected elements; motivation and confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding, and engagement in physical activities for life. For this blog, we are going to focus on the physical competence element.

Physical Competence
Physical competence refers to an individual’s ability to develop movement skills and patterns (e.g., running, jumping), in a variety of movement intensities (e.g., fast versus slow) and durations (long versus short). Enhanced physical competence enables an individual to participate in a wide range of physical activities and settings.[4:1]

Benefits of Physical Literacy
The physical health benefits of regular physical activity are well established in the research literature. Individuals who lack the skills, confidence, competence, and knowledge to be physically active are less likely to participate in physical activity. Being physically literate can provide the following benefits:

  1. Enables individuals to be able to be involved in activities they love to do (e.g., gardening, walking, biking).
  2. Fosters the opportunity for individuals to gain the motivation and confidence to participate in activities they never got to do in the past!
  3. Reduces the chances of sustaining an injury!
  4. Allows individuals to gain the knowledge and understanding to navigate potential hazards in their environment (e.g., slippery surfaces) [4:2]

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Physical Literacy![4:3]

  1. Create activities that are fun and challenging
  2. Create a safe environment (e.g., no sharp objects around and no bullying)
  3. Develop strength (e.g., jumping activities, push-ups)
  4. Learn proper sport skill techniques for safety (e.g., how to properly jump and land)
  5. Understand the sport’s code of conduct (e.g., no slide tackling in soccer)

We have also developed this mobile app to help you recover after an ACL injury and regain your physical competence.

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  1. Bonazza, N., Smuin, D. M., Sterling, N., Ba, D., Liu, G., Leslie, D. L., ... & Dhawan, A. (2019). Epidemiology of Surgical Treatment of Adolescent Sports Injuries in the United States: Analysis of the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. Arthroscopy, Sports Medicine, and Rehabilitation, 1(1), e59-e65. ↩︎

  2. Fältström, A., Kvist, J., Gauffin, H., & Hägglund, M. (2019). Female soccer players with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction have a higher risk of new knee injuries and quit soccer to a higher degree than knee-healthy controls. The American journal of sports medicine, 47(1), 31-40. ↩︎

  3. Grygorowicz, M., Michałowska, M., Jurga, P., Piontek, T., Jakubowska, H., & Kotwicki, T. (2019). Thirty Percent of Female Footballers Terminate Their Careers Due to Injury: A Retrospective Study Among Polish Former Players. Journal of sport rehabilitation, 28(2), 109-114. ↩︎

  4. Sport For life (2019) Physical Literacy Building a New Normal for all Canadians ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎