Training changes can reduce risk of ACL injury








By Al Kraft, MS, ATC, CSCS

Approximately 100,000 anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgeries are performed each year in the United States. Athletes participating in high-risk sports like basketball, soccer and football experience higher incidence of ACL injury. Also, female athletes are five to seven times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts.

While we can’t prevent all ACL injuries, including the following essential training elements will reduce the chances of suffering this devastating injury:

  • Dynamic warm-up. A proper warm-up develops mobility and stability, improves body awareness, reinforces correct biomechanics, all while preparing the body for the more intense training to follow.
  • Single-leg strength and stability. Because nearly all sports are played one leg at a time, development of single-leg strength is key. This training also improves hip and core stability, decreasing the chance of injury.
  • Landing skills. Great landing skills must be developed because many knee injuries occur when landing from a two-legged jump or single-leg hop. Whether on one or two legs, a good landing involves shock absorption, good hip strategy and great hip stability.
  • Deceleration and cutting skills. Athletes need to learn how to slow down and change direction. Maintaining knee stability during rapid changes of direction lessens the chance of injury.
  • Change-of-direction conditioning. The body must be conditioned to handle the stop-and-go nature of most team sports, which require bursts of frequent accelerations and decelerations. Straight-ahead running at a constant, submaximal speed is not conditioning that will properly prepare athletes. Linear and lateral drills — involving stopping and starting — will better condition athletes and minimize injury risk.

All of these essential training components are offered at Sanford POWER. Please contact Sanford POWER if you are interested in improving your performance and reducing your risk of injury by training with us.