Injury Prevention: ACL

ACL Injury Prevention

If you are getting ready to draft your fantasy league or are a Patriots fan, Julian Edelman is a name you’ve probably been hearing a lot in recent weeks. Why? Well, he’s out for the season due to an injury during a preseason game against the Detroit Lions. But what happened?

According to multiple reports, the MRI Edelman had showed an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear of his right leg. He will undergo surgery to repair the ACL and will be out for the majority, if not for the full, season.

What is the ACL and what does it do?

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament is one of four ligaments in the knee that works to stabilize the knee joint. The other ligaments include the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The ACL attaches to two of the major bones within the leg; the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) stabilizing the knee, preventing dislocation, and allowing rotation at the knee.

What causes an ACL injury?

Most ACL sprains or tears happen in sports activities that involve cutting or landing on one leg – non-contact activities. Sports such as football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and tennis are amongst the sports where ACL tears are most common.

However, ACL injuries can also occur due to contact incidents. For example, if an individual takes a blow to outside of their leg or knee, injury can occur to the ACL. A common example is of a football player who is tackled from the side while their foot is planted. The chance of an ACL (or other ligament) injury is high.

How can an ACL injury be prevented?

There are a number of different things you can do to help prevent an ACL injury. However, if you play sports, injury can be unavoidable.

athlete stretching

1. Stretch

As with most injuries, they can be prevented by properly stretching. This includes both before your workout (think a warm-up) and stretching regularly throughout the week. As you stretch and become more flexible, there is more “give” to your muscle. As your muscles loosen, you lessen your chance of injury. Be sure to stretch all of the different muscles in your legs. We recommend holding each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on BOTH sides.

2. Strengthen

Muscles support the ligaments and bones by providing support. When the muscles in your legs are strengthened, they act as a support system and prevent injury. The most important parts of developing strength is maintaining balance and using proper form. For example, you may have heard “never skip leg day” accompanied by an image with an individual being bulked in their upper body and legs that seem rather small. You need to create balance when you strengthen meaning focus on all of the muscle groups, not just one!

strengthening exercises

3. Proper form

Proper form is so important it gets it’s own number. Injuries are common in individuals who lack proper form. For example, when doing a squat, does your knee stay in line with your toes and not jetting inward towards one another. Consult with an athletic trainer or physical therapist to ensure that you are doing exercises and everyday movements correctly.

4. Balance

When’s the last time you worked on your balance? Unfortunately, as we age, our balance gets worse. By practicing and therefore improving your balance, you are also helping your stability. Avoid injuries caused by falling or becoming off balance.

5. Avoid certain shoes

Wearing high heels or cleats increases your susceptibility to injury. However, many sports require you to wear cleats so what can you do? Limit the amount of time you have to wear said cleats or high heels.

6. Rest

Your body will love you! Take a break. Get some rest. Off-days are ok!

Injuries happen but these things can help you prevent an injury to your ACL. Athlete or not, simple things like improving your balance and resting your body are great for the body. If you have questions about your form or think you may have injured your knee, contact our office to schedule a free consultation.

#injuryprevention #ACL #ACLinjury

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