Okay, we have to get something off our chest first before we begin. Preventing ACL tears (or any injury) completely is close to impossible. But, now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, we want to talk about some ways to help prevent an ACL tear. Your ACL is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in your knee, and it is one of four main ligaments that help stabilize your knee. This type of injury is common in sports and activities that may involve quick, stop & go type movement, changing directions suddenly, twisting and even jumping.
Did you know: Female athletes are 8 TIMES more likely to suffer from an ACL tear than male athletes. Some of the suggested reasons for this are:
- More hormone fluctuations
- Relative lack of strength in legs
- Female anatomy of a wider pelvis
- Female anatomy of a deeper Q Angle (knee to pelvis angle)
Evaluate for Valgus Knee Alignment
Valgus occurs when your knees turn in closer together than staying hip width apart when you bend at the knee (such as during a landing after a jump). You either video record yourself, or have someone watch you do a simple squat without holding any weight. If your knees start to turn in as you get deeper in the squat position, then you have Valgus alignment. This positioning can make you more prone to an ACL tear. There are ways you can try to combat this such as reconditioning and training your body to land differently. This is easier said than done for most of us at a later age, but it can help young athletes in getting them learn to the muscle memory from an early age.
Strengthen Your Lower Body
One of the best things you can do to prevent an ACL tear is to work on strengthening your legs. Make sure you don’t fall into the category of people who over-focus on their quads and not their hamstrings. There have been studies done to test the importance of hamstring strength and the hamstring-to-quadriceps ratio of strength, as it could be a factor in ACL tears. So making sure you focus on both areas evenly would be in your best interest.
Increase Flexibility & Agility
There are many health benefits to increasing your overall flexibility. Doing so, along with your increase in leg strength will provide a great balance in allowing your entire lower body to become stronger as a whole. On top of that, improving your agility and proprioception with plyometric exercises will truly take your prevention plan to the next level.
Advice on Preventing an ACL Tear