Preventing ACL injury means preventing physical trauma, an interrupted sports season, and the intensive processes of treatment as well. According to ACL injury statistics, sprains or tears of the anterior cruciate ligament affect approximately 150,000 people annually. This is a notably high sports injury incidence rate, but the good news is that a large majority of these injuries can be mitigated by implementing ACL injury prevention methods.
How to Prevent ACL Injuries
ACL injuries are serious, debilitating, common, and preventable. Implementing simple measures can dramatically reduce the risk of experiencing an ACL tear.
- Implement targeted strength training. The knee joint consists of three bones 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 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.
- Focus on balance. The majority of ACL injuries that occur during sports activity result from a quick change of direction, a sudden slowdown 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.
- Don’t forget to warm up and stretch. Muscles and ligaments that are cold and stiff are far more likely to experience injury. Warming up before intense activity can help to loosen muscles, which in turn may help to prevent injuries or reduce their severity. Stretching is similarly important for loosening the body’s ligaments. Focus on stretching muscles of the legs, especially the front and back muscles of the thigh.
- Wear proper footwear and practice proper technique. Shoes that do not fit well can impair balance and increase the likelihood of trips, twists, and other awkward motions. 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.
- Meet with a sports medicine specialist. Speaking with an expert in sports medicine, like Dr. Nelson, 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 on the specific activities and exercises that can improve these anatomical regions.
In addition to vulnerable muscles and connective tissues, Dr. Nelson 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.
Dr. Nelson is proud to offer the most effective treatment options for ACL injuries and is prepared to provide the targeted care that athletes need to make a full, successful recovery following a torn ACL. Whether you need treatment or would like to meet with Dr. Nelson for an examination and prevention advice, give us a call at 435-774-8511.