Ready for soccer season but scared of the dreaded ACL tear? Read on to find out what you can do to have the best summer ever, ACL-injury-free!
With spring in full force, children, teens and adults alike are gearing up for the soccer season. My guess is that if you’re in the soccer world, you know someone who has suffered an ACL injury or have had one yourself. ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament and it’s found inside your knee joint. It’s one of the four very important ligaments that support your knee and is commonly injured in soccer or sports that involve sudden changes in direction, jumping, quick stopping and starting, and contact sports.
If your ACL is torn, recovery may involve surgery coupled with a lengthy rehabilitation thereafter. With this in mind, consider some of these suggestions to decrease your risk of suffering the dreaded ACL tear.
Although there are many unmodifiable factors such as genetics, age and gender, that are risk factors for an ACL injury, we are going to focus on the factors that can easily be changed; the strength and coordination components that are proven to decrease your chances of tearing that ACL.
Recent research is showing that a combination of plyometrics, strengthening and trunk control exercises can significantly decrease your risk of ACL injury by up to 68%. That’s a massive decrease in risk and is certainly worthy of incorporation into your exercise routine.
According to Gilchrist et al, decreasing your chances of ACL injury only takes 20 minutes of your time before getting on the field. The exercises included:
- The Nordic hamstring curl: hard to do but so good to prevent ACL injury. We acknowledge that this exercise is a doozy, so we also want to show you a modification with an exercise ball. Once the modified exercise becomes less challenging, we recommend giving the Nordic curl another shot! See below for both exercises.
- Soft landing: when jumping and landing, think about landing softly. This encourages a strategy to engage the glutes more than using your quads and low back. Also, be mindful that your knees are not travelling too far forward as you land in your squat.
- Walking lunge: ensure your front knee doesn’t fall inwards or travel too far in front of your ankle when performing this exercise.
Take a look below for our videos featuring these recommended exercises. The research has suggested to complete this program 3x/week, and we would add that performing 3 sets of 10 of each exercise would be a great place to start. Speaking of starting, if you are an athlete looking to prevent an ACL injury, the sooner you can start this program, the better! Maybe even share it with your coaches and trainers! If you have any questions about the program, or would like any strategies more individualized to your own body, give us a call. We would be happy to help you improve your odds of enjoying a healthy, active, injury-free season!