Five Tips to Prevent an ACL Injury

Christopher C. Dodson, M.D. April 30th, 2018

ACL injuries are common among athletes. Learn about prevention methods.

If you can prevent ACL injury, you can bypass physical trauma, an interrupted sports season, and the intensive processes of treatment. According to ACL injury statistics, sprains or tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) affect approximately 150,000 people annually, the majority of whom are athletes. This is a notably high sports injury incidence rate; but the good news is that the majority of these injuries can be effectively mitigated by implementing ACL injury prevention methods.

As firm proponents of preventative Sports Medicine, the orthopaedic experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute have compiled the following five methods for preventing ACL injuries.

How to Prevent ACL Injuries

There’s a reason ACL injuries are so universally dreaded by athletes. They are serious, debilitating, and common; but that doesn’t mean they cannot be prevented. In fact, simple measures can dramatically reduce the risk of experiencing an ACL tear.

Following these five steps can help to ensure a safe sports season and a healthy, intact ACL.

  1. Implement Targeted Strength Training
    The knee joint is comprised of three bones (the femur, tibia, and patella) which are connected and stabilized by four ligaments. The ACL, runs diagonally across the center of the knee and provides rotational stability.

    Weakened knee ligaments, knee bones, and associated muscles can make athletes more prone to ACL tears and injuries. Strength training that targets the ACL and the other musculoskeletal components of the knee can significantly increase resilience against orthopaedic injury. Recommended strength training includes high-intensity jumping plyometrics and exercises that strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings of the thigh.

  2. Focus on Balance
    The majority of ACL injuries that occur during sports activity result from a quick change of direction, a sudden slow down or stop, a faulty landing, or a collision. Improving balance and strengthening the small muscles of the feet, ankles, legs, and knees can help to prevent unnatural twists and pivots that cause ACL tears and likewise improve resilience and reaction time.

  3. Don’t Forget to Warm Up and Stretch
    Muscles and ligaments that are cold and stiff are far more prone to experience orthopaedic injuries. Warming up prior to intense activity can help to loosen muscles, which in turn may help to prevent injuries or reduce their severity (i.e. an ACL sprain as opposed to a complete tear).

    Stretching is similarly important for loosening the body’s muscles and ligaments. Focus on stretching the muscles of the leg, especially the front and back muscles of the thigh. Stretching the rotational muscles of the ankle is similarly important, as a misguided twist of the ankle can cause the leg and knee to twist as well and may result in an ACL tear.

  4. Use Proper Footwear, Practice Proper Technique
    Ill-fitting shoes can impair your balance and increase the likelihood of trips, twists, and other awkward motions that send shock through your knee joint and may result in an ACL tear. Make sure that your footwear is properly fitted and that you are wearing all appropriate athletic gear.

    Practicing proper athletic technique is essential for avoiding high-impact, damaging motions. Consult with a coach or physical trainer to ensure that your technique is safe and correct.

  5. Meet With A Sports Medicine Specialist
    Speaking with an expert in Sports Medicine and undergoing a physical examination can help to target any musculoskeletal weakness or vulnerabilities. An orthopaedic specialist can identify areas of muscular weakness that may be susceptible to sprains or tears and advise you in the specific activities and exercises that can improve these anatomical regions.

    In addition to vulnerable muscles and connective tissues, Sports Medicine specialists can determine if your joints are operating properly or if any condition is impairing their function. A healthy range of joint motion is essential for avoiding sports injuries such as ACL tears.

At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, we are proud to offer the most effective treatment options for ACL injuries. From physical therapy to reconstructive surgeries, our physicians provide the targeted care that athletes need in order to make a full, successful recovery following a torn ACL.

It is our mission to help athletes to prevent ACL injuries. Whether you need treatment or would like to meet with one of our Sports Medicine specialists for an examination and prevention advising, we can help. Visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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