The ACL, located in the center of the knee, provides stability for the knee joint. The knee is comprised of three bones (the femur, tibia and patella) connected and stabilized by four ligaments including the ACL. ACL tears are serious and debilitating, but many of them are preventable. A physical therapist or athletic trainer can provide an assessment, develop an exercise program and give feedback to help reduce your risk of injury.
Several studies have shown that prevention programs which combine strengthening with neuromuscular training can be effective in reducing ACL injuries. Some prevention programs are as short as 20-30 minutes and can be performed multiple times per week. However, research needs to be done to determine the ideal length and frequency of these programs for injury prevention.
Studies also suggest that incorporating sport specific exercises into the prevention program is essential. These exercises should be challenging and appropriate to the athlete’s skill level. This will help them to better self-organize movements in the complex and dynamic environment of ball team sports. Traditional, closed-skill anticipated exercises do not adequately prepare athletes for the demands of these sports.
Other factors that contribute to the high incidence of ACL injuries include improper footgear, age and gender. Young women in particular have two to eight times higher ACL injury rates compared to their male counterparts in the same sports. This is mainly due to the fact that girls experience significant growth and development during puberty, which increases their body size and strength at a faster rate than boys. acl injury prevention