ACL Injuries, ACL Prevention, and What It Means For Athletes
The anterior cruciate ligament, also known as the ACL, is a ligament that is located in the center of the knee. The ACL stabilizes and prevents the bones from moving in directions that the knee should not go.
What Is The ACL and Results of an ACL Injury?
The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. It is estimated that in the United States, there are over 250,000 ACL injuries per year. More than half of these injuries occur in athletes 15 to 20 years old. The ACL tears from a person planting their foot, stopping, and their weight shifting the opposite way very quickly. The weight going one way and the leg going another tears the ACL.
Lots of athletes see ACL injuries as the end of their career because the recovery period is long and strenuous. It involves surgical reconstruction of the knee and many months of physical therapy to follow.
How Do You Prevent ACL Injuries
This begs the question, how do you prevent yourself from injuring your ACL? The only real way to avoid ACL injuries is to avoid activities altogether – but realistically; it’s nearly impossible to do that! Luckily, there are ways to minimize the risk of ACL injuries with the proper movement techniques.
Research shows that up to 88% of ACL injuries can be prevented with the proper education, stretching, strengthening, and agility courses. Train your body to have a stable center of gravity and a strong core, and try to maintain your core strength and flexibility. You may consider taking up yoga to build your core and balance, and it works well as a way to stretch.
It is also important to have enough strength that the knees do not buckle down when the athlete lands. By strengthening the knees and legs, the whole body will take the stress of landing instead of buckling down under the knees.