ACL tears are every athlete’s worst nightmare. But with proper precautions and training, these season-ending injuries can be prevented.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is located in the center of the knee. It provides stability for the knee and is essential for athletic performance, including running, jumping, changing direction, and stopping suddenly. The ACL is at particular risk for injury during non-contact sports like soccer, basketball, and football, as well as recreational activities such as downhill skiing.
Although the risk of ACL tear increases during childhood and adolescence, the majority of ACL injuries are preventable. Programs that combine strength, plyometrics, and neuromuscular training are effective at decreasing ACL injury rates. These programs must be implemented with a thorough dynamic examination, and individualized to each athlete.
This means incorporating squats, planks, lunges, balance, and agility drills to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. These exercises also teach athletes to land properly from jumps and how to execute cutting, pivoting, and changing directions correctly. This training can reduce the risk of ACL tear by improving neuromuscular control around the knee during dynamic movement. These faulty movement patterns are modifiable and can be identified during a thorough dynamic assessment. acl injury prevention