Pre-game programs can help prevent ACL injuries

The NFL has seen a number of devastating non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries over the past couple of seasons. But Sanford POWER senior physical therapist Brett Fischer says there are ways to lower the risk of sustaining the knee injury.

Fischer_Brett_WEB160x200“There are many proven injury prevention programs and they all have the same components,” Fischer said. “They address hamstrings, core and hip strength along with lower-body mechanics with jumping and hopping.”

The prevention programs take about 10-15 minutes prior to a game or practice and require very little equipment.

Common treatments for ACL injury

However, if you still tear your ACL, there are common treatments available.

“For a young, active individual, the solution almost always ends up being surgery,” Fischer said. “There are different graft options and the surgeon will have input on what will be best for your given situation.”

Physical therapy and athletic training are both mainstays to help address pain, mobility, strength and return to sport. It isn’t a quick process, but most athletes are returning to their sport in nine to 12 months.

ACL prevention practices vary by sport

In the NFL, around 70 percent of ACL injuries are non-contact, leading Fischer to believe not many prevention programs have been implemented.

“There are multiple programs in soccer that have shown great success with reducing ACL injuries,” Fischer said. “The culture of certain sports can sometimes hold back advances in that specific sport.”

Fischer says an example is pitch counts in baseball, which lead to preventing overuse injuries.

For more information on ACL injuries, or to schedule a rehab appointment, visit

Brett Fischer, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC