ACL Injuries are all too common. Unfortunately, this epidemic strikes women almost 5 times more than men. Most ACL injuries require expensive surgeries and physical therapy, and also come with a lot of emotional baggage as well. It is incredibly important that we focus on preventing ACL injuries in order to minimize these devastating repercussions. While you can’t strengthen the actual knee ligaments, you can strengthen the muscles and tissues surrounding the knee.

  • Avoid Vulnerable Positions: This simply means to try and avoid things that can injure you. Sounds common sense, but when you’re playing in the heat of the moment you rarely think things through logically.
  • Cross-Train or Work on Soft Surfaces: In order to supplement your current workouts and avoid injuries try either cross training or doing your running on soft surfaces. Running on these man-made surfaces put a tremendous amount of pressure and strain on you knees (and other joints) because the hard ground doesn’t absorb any pressure.
  • Increasing Flexibility: There are two main ways to increase flexibility. The first is by incorporating (more) dynamic stretching. You should be stretching dynamically before every practice to properly warm up your muscles, and static stretching after every training and game. Stretching everyday is really the only way to make significant improvement.
  • Increasing Strength and Correcting Imbalances: You should be strength training by correcting muscle imbalances and training movements. Most younger athletes train like bodybuilders, and this is completely wrong. Training functional movements is the key to developing core strength and stability.
  • Incorporate Plyometric Training: When you get above the age of 12, you should begin to incorporate more plyometric exercises in to your training. The reason younger kids shouldn’t do it is that it stresses the joints and can potential lead to injury.
  • Increasing Proprioception: “Proprioception is the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body. Even if you are blindfolded, you know through proprioception if your arm is above your head or hanging by your side. The word “Proprioception” was coined in 1906 by the English neurophysiologist Charles Sherrington who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1932 for research on the function of the neuron and study of reflex action.”
  • Proprioception basically is like your body’s sixth sense of being able to identify where it is in the surrounding space. It’s largely responsible for the unconscious movements your body makes.

    By incorporating these six elements, you’ll stand a far better chance at minimizing serious injuries. Especially in youth sports, serious injuries can leave an impact for years. This could range from missing out on a season to getting cut from a roster and long-term or recurring pain. It’s important we combine injury prevention training in to our regular training regimen.