ACL tears are every athlete’s nightmare. They can derail a season, require surgery and take up to a year for recovery. The good news is that many of these injuries can be prevented through proper training, stretching and conditioning and by understanding the risk factors.
Non-contact ACL injuries primarily occur during sports that involve pivoting, cutting and jumping activities. These types of movements are common in a variety of sports including soccer, volleyball and football. Faulty mechanics during dynamic movement such as excessive valgus knee position can also contribute to ACL injury risk. These alterations are best identified in a fatigued state and can be recognized in a standard dynamic assessment.
Strengthening the hamstring muscles, located on the back of the thigh, is another important preventative measure for ACL injuries. These muscles work with the quadriceps muscle, which is located on the front of the thigh, to bend and straighten the knee. Having strong quads and hamstrings can help decrease the risk of ACL injuries, especially when performed with proper technique.
Keeping core muscles strong is also important to prevent ACL injuries. A basic plank exercise is an excellent way to strengthen the core, as well as the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back and legs.
Lastly, it is important to play safe and know when your body is ready to stop playing. Too much exercise can lead to muscle fatigue, which can reduce the ability to control movement and increase injury risk. This includes not pushing yourself to continue playing when you are tired, and incorporating days of rest into your routine.acl injury prevention