How to Prevent an ACL Injury

Part II of Back to School Blog Series

It is estimated that 38,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur each year in female athletes, and epidemiological research demonstrates that young women are 2 to 8 times more likely to sustain an ACL injury compared to their male counterparts who participate in the same sports.  ACL injuries often require surgery to repair, months of rehabilitation, and can result in increased risk of degenerative arthritis in the future.  More research has been introduced on risk factors and prevention of this severe knee injury.

It is often thought that contact injuries cause ACL tears, however, 70 percent of ACL injuries occur through non-contact sports such as running and cutting or landing from a jump.  For more information and background on ACL injuries link to CA Physical Therapy Association.

Team sports including soccer, basketball, and volleyball have been shown to require lower body dynamic stability to perform repetitive cutting, jumping, and decelerating.  Adding neuromuscular and proprioceptive exercises to an athlete’s training schedule can reduce the number of ACL injuries by 2 to 4 fold.  Goals for a prevention program should include:

  • Avoiding vulnerable positions
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Increasing strength
  • Plyometric exercises
  • Increasing proprioception through agility drills

Check out these videos that illustrate the above exercises.

Heel touches

Wall squats

Single leg bridge

Lunge step

Broad jump

Many coaches, trainers, and parents have helped integrate these exercises into training programs.  Since it is back to school / back to sports time,  it is important that your kids get skilled conditioning programs.  Learning proper form and training now can prevent ACL injuries for many years.  Contact a physical therapist for more information on how to integrate these and other ACL prevention exercises into a conditioning program.

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