ACL tears are extremely common sports injuries. There really is no secret to avoiding them. The twisting, jumping, stopping movements of the game can cause damage no matter how hard you try, but there are a few technique to help lower the risk of injury. It all begins with proper alignment.
During the game:
- Move consistently and with control.
- Keep your chest high and centered over knees.
- Keep ankles, hips and knees aligned at all times.
- Do not let your knees collapse inward.
- Bend knees to allow for smoother impact when landing.
- Cut to the left or right using your inside leg instead of your outside leg.
Simple enough, right? It’s not easy to keep all these things in mind when you’re in the middle of a game. But there are other ways to help. The next thing you can do to prevent injury is build up the strength in your ACL. Here are some helpful exercises you can do:
- Squats: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your hips, knees and fee should all be in alignment. Drop your hips back and lower your body with your head pointed up. Don’t push your knees forward, your hips should move backward so that your back stays straight. Once you’ve lowered, stand back up with on your heels while tightening your glutes and core.
- Jump Squat: Start off similarly to a typical squat, except instead of standing up straight launch off your heels. Make sure you are landing on something soft and on the balls of your feed with your knees bent. End the exercise back in the squatting position.
- Lateral Bound: Standing up straight, feet shoulder-width apart, drop your hips backwards and lift just one leg so that it’s aligned with your hip. Jump sideways on your heal with your grounded leg and land on the ball of your foot.
- Step Ups: Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart and lift one leg onto a box. Make sure your foot, knee and hip are all aligned on the box. Push up your lower leg using the leg on the box. As you lift your leg up, bend your knee as you lift. While you lift, simultaneously lift your opposite arm up at the same time.