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Use These Two Exercises to Help Prevent ACL Injuries

An Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL tear is one of the more feared injuries in sports, especially football. The ACL is the main stabilizing ligament of the knee joint and does not heal on it’s own. When an ACL ruptures it needs to be surgically repaired in order for the joint to be stable and function normally. Recovery from an ACL tear can take from six to nine months. Between 2010 and 2013, the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine reported 219 ACL tears in NFL players with the highest amount of injuries during pre-season. There was no significant difference in injuries on artificial turf versus natural grass and the majority of these injuries do not include contact.  

Though nothing can fully prevent ACL tears, there is significant research that shows that ACL prevention programs can reduce the risk of getting injured. Risk factors that can lead to ACL tears include poor hamstring to quad strength ratio, hip strength, neuromuscular control and jumping and landing mechanics. Though there are many other factors, the aforementioned can be improved.

Utilizing the following two exercises will improve strength, neuromuscular control and landing technique to allow the muscles to absorb energy when the foot hits either the box or ground. They are two simple and safe exercises that can be performed by most athletes. The key is proper mechanics.

Box Jump 2 to 1: Utilizing a 6 inch box or step squat down with two legs and jump up to the box landing on one leg. Upon landing, the athlete needs to shock absorb flexing at the hip, knee and ankle. The knee also must stay below the hip and without any valgus or inward movement of the knee.

Lateral Depth Jump 2 to 1: Begin standing on a 6 inch box or step and jump laterally landing on one foot. Upon landing, the athlete needs to shock absorb flexing at the hip, knee and ankle. The knee also must stay below the hip and without any valgus or inward movement of the knee.