How To Prevent ACL Tears

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

If you watch ESPN, you’ve heard of an ACL tear.  ACL tears are some of the most common types of injuries to affect athletes.  With so many kids involved in sports, we need to be aware of how to prevent ACL tears.

What is the ACL?

The many tendons and ligaments in the knee where ACL Tears occur

Strengthening the tendons and muscles of the knee is hot to prevent ACL Tears

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is one of the major ligaments that supports the knee.  The ACL helps to keep the lower leg sliding forward and twisting.  It also helps to limit hyperextension of the knee.  If the ACL tears, it usually happens when the foot is fixed on the ground and the knee twists or over extends.

When the ACL tears, it usually causes a lot of swelling and pain in the knee.  It is possible to walk on it but the knee is usually very unstable.  Range of motion is usually limited in the knee.  Strength and muscle control usually decline quickly after an ACL tear.

ACL tears are more common in females than males.  ACL tears also account for up to 2/3 of snow ski injuries.  This is due to the limited ankle and foot movement while in a ski boot.

To learn more about ACL tears and surgery, watch this educational video.

How Can You Prevent An ACL Tear?

Female athlete stretching to prevent ACL tear.

Image of athlete stretching to prevent ACL tear.

If you are concerned about the risk of ACL tears, there are some things you can do.  Proper training can help to decrease the risk of an ACL tear.   For example, more ski-related ACL tears happen at the end of the day.  The skier is usually really fatigued and the may not respond as quickly to the changes in the snow.  This is more common in folks who ski infrequently.

Specific ways to decrease the risk of ACL tear include:

  1. Endurance and Conditioning Training: Train for the specific sport that you are performing.  Work on cardiovascular endurance to increase stamina.
  2. Strength Training: Strong quads, hamstrings, and glutes can increase stability of the legs and knees and decrease the risk of ACL tear.
  3. Stretch: Flexibility in the leg can decrease the risk of injuries, including ACL tears.
  4. Agility Training: Working on agility activity can improve reaction to different surfaces and positions.
  5. Balance Training: Working of advanced balance activity can allow you to position you body over your legs better with sports.  This can decrease the excessive stresses on the knee which may lead to an ACL tear.

Who can Help with Exercises to Prevent ACL tears?

If you or your child play a sport, proper exercise is vital to decrease the risk of ACL tears.  Most schools and sport clubs have Licensed Athletic Trainers of staff.  Athletic trainers are highly trained experts in sports exercise and injury prevention.  An Athletic Trainer can help to develop a sport-specific conditioning program to decrease the risk of an ACL tear.  Athletic trainers can also assess injuries and treat athletes who have been injured.  To schedule for physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045. 

Athletic Trainers helping athletes in Jax.

Image of Athletic Trainers helping and injured athlete.

What Do I Do if I think I Tore my ACL?

Even with proper training and prevention care, ACL tears can still happen.  The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute is still here to help.  JOI offers Fracture & Injury Services so that you can be evaluated quickly by one of our Orthopedic Surgeons.

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