How to Avoid an ACL tear

By: Rachel Sneed

What is an ACL?

ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament which is a cruciate ligament of each knee that attaches the front of the tibia with the back of the femur and functions especially to prevent hyperextension of the knee and is subject to injury.
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What are Common Ways People Tear their ACL?

An ACL injury often occurs during sports. The injury can happen when your foot is firmly planted on the ground and a sudden force hits your knee while your leg is straight or slightly bent. This type of injury is common in soccer, skiing, football, and other sports with lots of stop-and-go movements, jumping, or weaving. Falling off a ladder or missing a step on a staircase are other likely causes. Like any other body part, the ACL becomes weaker with age. So a tear happens more easily in people older than age 40. But recently, there have been more and more cases of ACL tears in young children which is why there have been exercises implemented to prevent this tear. Girls are 6x more prone to tearing their ACL than boys because of the different hip structure and the amount of muscle in the knee. Tearing your ACL can lead to arthritis later in life.

HOW TO AVOID AN ACL TEAR

These set of exercises strengthen the muscles around the knee which would prevent an ACL tear by up to 75%. People who are very active and anyone who cares about their body should do these exercises as much as possible to avoid the tearing of the ACL.

BASIC SQUAT (3 SETS X 10 REPS)

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  1. Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out.
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance.
  3. Sit back and down like you're sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend.
  4. Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels.
  5. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.

JUMP SQUAT (3 sets x 10 reps)

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  1. 1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.
  3. 3. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control.

LATERAL BOUND (3 SETS X 10 REPS)

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1. Stand with feet close together. Bend knees and hips slightly with arms bent to sides or to front. Lift right foot up, slightly off of floor.

2. Jump far to right side and land right foot with left foot off of ground. Jump far to left side landing on right foot. Continue to bound from side to side.

STEP UP (3 SETS X 10 REPS)

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1. Stand facing side of bench, step or platform.

2. Place foot of first leg on bench. Stand on bench by extending hip and knee of first leg and place foot of second leg on bench.

3. Step down with second leg by flexing hip and knee of first leg. Return to original standing position by placing foot of first leg to floor.

4. Repeat first step with opposite leg, alternating first steps between legs.

HAMSTRING CURL (3 SETS X 10 REPS)

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1. Place a light dumbbell on the floor, standing on end. Choose a lighter dumbbell than you think you’ll need at first, until you’re comfortable with the exercise.

2. Lie down on the floor, on your stomach, with your legs straight and feet close to the dumbbell. Place your feet on either side of the dumbbell handle.

3.Squeeze the dumbbell between your feet and bend your knees to lift it off the floor. The top weight on the dumbbell will rest on the bottom of your feet.

BALL WALK OUT (5 SETS)

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1. Lay your abs on the gym ball while your hands and feet are on the floor.
2. Hold up head and upper body.
3. Walk forward with your arms. At the same time, guide your legs across the ball until the shins lay on it centered (final position)

DEAD LIFT (3 SETS X 10 REPS)

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  1. Grasp a couple of dumbbells holding them by your side at arm's length.
  2. Stand with your torso straight and your legs spaced using a shoulder width or narrower stance. The knees should be slightly bent. This is your starting position.
  3. Keeping the knees stationary, lower the dumbbells to over the top of your feet by bending at the waist while keeping your back straight. Keep moving forward as if you were going to pick something from the floor until you feel a stretch on the hamstrings. Exhale as you perform this movement
  4. Start bringing your torso up straight again by extending your hips and waist until you are back at the starting position. Inhale as you perform this movement.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Doing these exercises will reduce your chances of tearing your ACL which will also reduce your chances of getting arthritis.