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How to prevent an ACL injury

The incidence of ACL injuries in junior athletes is becoming more frequent. As a result, we are seeing more reconstructive surgeries in younger teenagers and children. Sports physios are well positioned to help reduce risk of sports injuries.

ACL injuries are a daunting and frightening diagnosis, often one which many people associate as “career ending” but this is not necessarily the case!

With advances in surgical procedures and physio research, these injuries can be better managed. Initially we can implement preventative programs to address strength and control. When injury does occur, we have greater knowledge of effective rehabilitation for post-surgical recovery. All of this allows the athlete to have a better chance of regaining their desired level of performance.

Some risk factors for ACL injuries include:

  • Reduced strength of the lower limb
  • Muscle imbalances especially quadriceps and hamstrings
  • Reduced core control
  • Jumping and landing technique – especially with cutting, pivoting and single leg landing
  • Reduced balance
  • Fatigue and overtraining

Many of these risk factors can be addressed through the correct training and drills. A well rounded program strengthens muscles and core control, improves balance, body awareness and landing/cutting technique.

Below is a small but important collection of exercises to help improve strength, dynamic balance and technique.

These exercises can be performed prior to training or a game as part of a warm up.

Strength

  • Squats with toe raise – quads, glute, hamstrings and calves
  • Walking lunges
  • Side plank

Proprioception/Balance

  • Single leg ball roll 30 s
  • Drinking bird + ball pass

Landing

  • Vertical jumps, 180s, lateral jumps

Agility

  • Ice skaters
  • Zig zag run
  • Side shuffle
  • Forwards and backwards accelerate and decelerate

Recovery Stretching

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Foam rolling

Appropriate training may reduce risk of injury, and when implemented across a whole sport, the benefits from avoiding serious injury could be significant. A sports physio can assess your movement, and reduce your risk through appropriate training and exercises.

If you want to see a sports physio to help you get to your peak strength, fitness, balance and agility, you can BOOK ONLINE via our online booking system