How Athletes Can Reduce the Risk of an ACL Injury

A Stregnth and Conditioning Specialist From Sanford POWER Gives Workout Tips to Help Reduce the Risk of an ACL Injury

FARGO, ND — Fall sports are in full swing and with a new season comes the possibility of getting injured.

One of the most common sports injuries are ACL related.

ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, which travels from the medial part of your lower leg to the lateral part of your upper thigh bone.

You can never fully prevent an injury, but you can lower the risk of getting injured through different workout routines.

We talked with a strength and conditioning specialist at Sanford POWER about what athletes can do to help reduce the risk of an ACL injury.

ACL injuries can happen through impact or constant use.

The most common is wearing down over time.

“That can occur like landing from a jump or a hop and your knee just caves in or if you make a sudden stop, or start, or cut the ACL can tear as well,” Said Sanford POWER’s Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Al Kraft.

Twenty percent of ACL injuries happen due to impact.

“If you have your leg planted and somebody crashes into you or tackles you and your foot is planted that’s a contact injury and that can push the knee in and that can tear the ACL,” Kraft said.

Strengthening your hips is crucial to ACL injury prevention.

“Whenever we land on one leg or two legs, you want to keep the legs straight ahead and what control that is your hip muscles, so we need to get really strong hips,” Kraft said.

To get stronger hips, Kraft had his coworker, Nicole, show us some easy exercises to do at home.

The first exercise is a fire hydrant, which is when you are on all fours with a resistance band around your knees and you lift your knee out to the side.

“Generally we do five reps of six seconds then we switch and go the other way,” Kraft said. “We need to do more functional exercises so we’re going to do more jumping. Jump up, quite landing, jump down, stick the landing on the floor. This is important for sports where there’s a lot of change in directions. That’s when injuries occur; when you accelerate and decelerate.”

Kraft stressed that it’s important to be patient during your ACL recovery because going back to your sport before you’re fully healed can cause a bigger injury.

He said athletes who play sports that do a lot of stopping and starting and change in direction, such as soccer and basketball, have a higher chance of injuring their ACL.

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