Every athlete fears the common “pop” associated with ACL injury. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most important ligaments supporting your knee. ACL injury is commonly observed in sports that include sudden jumping, change in direction, or landing, such as basketball, football, and soccer.
According to the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM), a quarter of a million ACL injuries occur every year in Canada. The good news is, with adequate prevention methods, this injury can be mitigated.
Let’s have a look at ACL injury some ways to prevent it.
What is ACL injury?
Your knee is supported by four rope like structures, also known as ligaments. These ligaments provide stability and strength to the knee joint. ACL is responsible for rotation of the knee and forward movement of the shin bone.
Injury of this ligament is often associated with buckling of knee, a distinct pop, swelling and pain, and inability to stand on the affected leg.
The Best Ways to Prevent ACL Injuries
Although ACL tear can happen anytime and to anyone, certain precautions will help to prevent it. Some techniques to prevent ACL injuries include:
Nourish Your Ligament
Adequate hydration and nutrition will keep your ligaments strong and healthy. Include colourful vegetables and fruits in your diet, as well as nuts, lean protein, and legumes. This will help to provide adequate calcium and proteins required to sustain any form of injury.
Hamstrings, a group of muscles in the upper part of your leg, play an important role in ACL injuries. Strengthening exercises, such as stability ball hamstring curls, squats and lunges, and deadlifts are some great options to make your hamstrings sturdy.
Lower the Impact
Individuals with a history of knee injury or older adults are at an increased risk of ACL tear. Training exercises, such as pool training, helps to lower the impact of movement on your knee.
Practice Safe Landing Techniques
Improper landing technique is the commonest cause of ACL tear. A good landing technique involves:
- Bending the knees
- Landing on both feet
- Keeping knees at shoulder distance when you land
Focus on Improving Balance
ACL injuries are often associated with a sudden change of direction or faulty landing techniques. Improving balance can prevent abnormal pivots and twists responsible for ACL tear. Improved balance can also improve your reaction time and resilience.
Wear Proper Footwear
Ill-fitting footwear can alter your balance and increase the risk of twists and movements that can cause ACL tear. Wear a proper fitting pair of shoes to prevent any risk of injury.
Consult a Physiotherapist
A physiotherapist will help you to understand any musculoskeletal vulnerabilities. You may be recommended some exercises to improve the strength of those weak parts. They can also help you understand if the range of movement of your joint is normal or any underlying disorder is hampering it. In case the joints are not moving properly, you may be advised therapies and exercise to improve them, which will help to prevent injuries.
Of note, consult a doctor immediately in case of an ACL tear. Anterior cruciate ligament injury treatment includes surgery and physiotherapy.