7 Exercises to Help Avoid ACL Injury

Tendons connect muscles to bones; ligaments connect bones to bones. Your ACL is a ligament in your knee connecting your thigh and shin bones inside your knee. Its job is to prevent the knee joint from moving back and forth. Knees are meant to bend and straighten, flex and extend, not move back and forth or side to side.

An ACL injury is a tear to the ligament due to atypical knee movement, usually under stress. It is painful and crippling. Avoiding one is definitely in your best interest. Ligaments rely on collagen for repair and it can take up to a year for this to happen. They also only recover 85-95% of the strength they originally had. Because tendons and ligaments do not have the blood supply that muscles do, they don’t as quickly receive the nutrients and protein needed to repair damage. Preventing the damage from happening in the first place is the ideal thing.

  1. Strengthening the muscles in your thighs will help to prevent injuring your knees because these muscles also function as stabilizers. The more capacity you have to keep your knees stable the less possibility of suffering damage.
  2. Stretching before and after exercising or playing sports will minimize the risk of injury. Stretching helps to warm up the muscles and keep them flexible so that your body bends and doesn’t break. Most importantly, stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings but also your hip and core muscles; all of these work together to help you jump and land properly and safely.
  3. Playing more than one sport, so that you work out and strengthen more muscles, and different muscles, is important. It is recommended that children have time for “free play” to do things like jump rope and climb trees, so that they develop core strength and balance. When children play a single sport often, they can put too much strain on certain parts of their body and not achieve overall healthy development.
  4. Neuromuscular control is using your mind teaching your body how to control movements in a very specific way. Learning jumping skills is an example of this. The details of how to hold and angle your body when you jump and land makes a big difference in preventing injuries, particularly knee injuries and specifically ACL injuries.
  5. ACL injury prevention programs include plyometric exercises which build power, strength, and speed. The goal is to reach maximum strength in the shortest period of time. These exercises are explosive, and are things like jumping up onto a box, over hurdles, and side to side over a cone.
  6. Agility skills are taught through exercises which increase the stability of the knee, ankle, and hip. By doing things like forward, backward, and diagonal running, you teach your body how to cut and pivot properly, while also strengthening stabilizing muscles so that you have the skill and the strength when you need it on the field or wherever.
  7. Warming up before exercising or playing sports and cooling down afterwards is something that will help prevent injury and also speed recovery. Doing this regularly can even boost performance. A warm up will include stretching and something to get your blood flowing, such as jogging. Warming up loosens up your muscles, giving them a greater range of motion, and increases the oxygen flow to them. It gets your heart-rate up and prepares you mentally. A cool down will consist of stretching and a slower exercise, like walking. Cooling down brings your heart-rate back down, reduces muscle soreness, and helps your muscles to relax and return to regular movement.

Read this another article: http://www.aclsurgeryrecovery.net/16/5-signs-of-a-torn-acl/

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

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