Can ACL injuries be minimized with proper strengthening and training?
Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears are one of the most common injuries found in the lower extremity and unfortunately happen at an alarming rate. They happen more frequently amongst the female population. This is thought to occur due to sport specification amongst female athletes, anatomical makeup, hormones, neuromuscular and biomechanical gender differences. These are all predispositions that researchers believe make female athletes more susceptible to ACL injury versus their male counterparts. ACL injuries often happen from non-contact rotary forces that are associated with planting and cutting, hyperextension, or by violent quadriceps contraction which in turn pulls the tibia forward on the femur.
So, the question is, can ACL injuries be minimized with proper strengthening and training programs? The answer is yes, they can in fact be minimized. Research from a multitude of case studies and controlled trials have shown that various strengthening and training programs have reduced the occurrence of ACL injury amongst both male and female athletes. It has been shown that neuromuscular training paired with plyometric training has significantly reduced an athlete’s risk of having ACL injury.
Types of neuromuscular training would include:
- Single leg balancing on airex pad
- Single leg balancing with reach outs
- Single leg balancing while catching a medicine ball
- Single leg balancing with manual resistance
- Squats on BOSU ball
Types of Plyometric training would include:
- Ladder drills
- Box jumps
- Scissor jumps
- Vertical jumps over cones
- Unidirectional line jumps
- Multidirectional line jumps
- Squat jumps
- Z jumps
Doing a training program similar to the one above that incorporates neuromuscular training with plyometric training would be beneficial for any male or female athlete young or old because it helps strengthening your musculature and neuromuscular awareness. It will not completely diminish the chances of you injuring your ACL but it will increase your odds of not.
Hewett, T. E. (2005). Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Female Athletes: Part 2, A Meta-analysis of Neuromuscular Interventions Aimed at Injury Prevention. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(3), 490-498. doi:10.1177/0363546505282619
Larson (2016, November). The Knee Joint Powerpoint.
Toscano, L., & Carroll, B. (2014). Preventing ACL Injuries in Females: What Physical Educators Need to Know. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 86(1), 40-46. doi:10.1080/07303084.2014.978418