Each year many athletes are sidelined from activity after suffering an ACL injury. Recent studies show that ACL ruptures occur at a rate of 60 per 100,000 people per year, with over 50,000 people admitted to the hospital for reconstruction of a torn ACL.
However, athletes can help prevent ACL injury with balance, strength and speed drills. First I want to answer some frequently asked questions regarding ACL injuries and then offer insight into some appropriate skills training that may be able to keep you in the game and injury free.
What Is an ACL injury?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that provide stability to the knee joint. Of the four major ligaments of the knee, the ACL injury is the one most commonly injured.
What causes an ACL injury?
ACL injuries are common in sports that involve sudden changes of direction. Most are non-contact injuries that occur during sudden twisting motion (for example, when the feet are planted one way and the knees are turned another way) or when landing from a jump.
The causes of ACL injury have recently been the focus of research. Factors contributing to ACL injuries include ground hardness, grass type and cleat type. But one of the other major findings is that women are nearly three times more likely to have ACL injuries than men. And some statistics says that a female soccer player is eight times more likely to injury her ACL than a male soccer player. Findings have shown a difference in neuromuscular control in women when landing jumps as women appear to have less hip and knee flexion than men.
How do I prevent an ACL injury?
Athletes can reduce their risk of ACL injuries by performing training drills that require balance, power and agility. Adding plyometric exercises, such as jumping, and balance drills ultimately show a decrease in the risk of ACL injury. Many team physicians now routinely recommend an ACL conditioning program, especially for their female players.
ACL Prevention Training Programs:
The two prevention programs that have shown remarkable results are the Sportsmetrics program out of the University of Cincinnati and the Santa Monica ACL Prevention Project from the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation.
Sportsmetrics is the first training program scientifically proven to help athletes get stronger, jump higher, and reduce the risk of serious knee injuries. The program was designed by Dr. Frank Noyes, one of the most influential orthopaedic physicians in the world, and his research team at Cincinnati SportsMedicine Research and Education Foundation. It is a six-week jump training program that meets three times per week on alternating days. Each session is approximately one and a half hours and includes the following components:
• Dynamic Warm-up:
• Plyometrics/Jump Training:
• Speed and Agility Training:.
• High Intensity Strength Training:.
• Flexibility Training:
The Santa Monica ACL Prevention Project developed an ACL Injury Prevention Program specifically for female soccer players. This 15-minute training program incorporates balance, agility and performance drills into the warm up phase of training and practice.
Phases of the ACL Injury Prevention Program should be performed at least 2-3 times per week during the season and includes: warm up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics and agility drills.
Bottom Line: For both men and women who participate in start and stop sports, appropriate skills training, such as those in the above program, may be the key to staying injury free.
This information is provided by Letics Sports and Sportsmetrics. The educational information on our site is provided to help you better understand the medical challenges you face, as determined by your health care provider, and to complement your efforts to live your healthiest life. This site is for informational purposes and should be used in conjunction with health care professionals.