Rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a common injury that can severely effect an athlete’s career and has significant additional financial, physical and emotional consequences outside of sport. The good news is that many of these injuries can be prevented with an ACL prevention program. Unfortunately, most amateur athletes involved in sport at a school or community level are not engaged in these sorts of programs, but progress is being made.
A typical program will include jumping/landing drills, strengthening exercises and agility drills with the aim of improving strength, improve strength, flexibility, control, balance and co-ordination. This is usually incorporated into training as a 15-30 minute ‘warm-up’ but can also be done as a separate routine.
In this country, Netball Australia is leading the way in ACL prevention with their Knee Program. They have programs tailored for juniors, recreational and elite athletes, with a great online resource available here: http://knee.netball.com.au
This type of program won’t be for everyone, but it is especially important that athletes who are at higher risk of ACL injury pay additional attention to prevention. Risk factors include:
- High risk sports: AFL, soccer, netball or snow skiing
- Past history of ACL injury
- Family history of ACL injury
If you are at higher risk and your club or school doesn’t have a program in place then I recommend engaging with an experienced sports physio or sports trainer who can guide you.
Even those who don’t feel a formal prevention program is for them should still consider the importance of adequate preparation for sport. At this time of year when winter sports restart I always see an increase in patients coming in with Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries. A very common story is amateur athletes in their twenties and thirties who haven’t done any physical exercise over summer getting off the couch and returning to sport without adequate preparation. Given the proven benefits of strength and agility training in reducing injuries, this is the worst thing you can do. Putting in the hard yards preseason, as well as maintaining this during the season, is important not only for general fitness and endurance but also for the prevention of many injures including those to the ACL.
Click below link to learn more about ACL reconstruction:
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